I just received my copy of What'll I Do With the Baby-o? Nursery Rhymes, Songs, and Stories for Babies, by Jane Cobb, published by Black Sheep Press in Canada. Readers who are children's librarians probably recognize Jane Cobb's name through the perennial staple of program-preparation, I'm a Little Teapot! Presenting Preschool Storytime.
Cobb is currently the Coordinator of Parent-Child Mother Goose Programs for Vancouver Public Library and has worked as a children's librarian for 25 years. Her understanding for what works with both parents and children shines through in this incredible resource for children's librarians, early childhood teachers, parents wishing to learn more songs and rhymes for babies, as well as performers who want to be effective in welcoming the youngest children into the storytelling fold.
Cobb's book comes with a compact disc of 36 songs and rhymes for tunes not easily found through other recordings. Those who have had to hunt down recordings and beg colleagues to sing songs repeatedly so they could learn them (including bribing them with chocolate to sing the songs over voicemail so that the songs could be replayed) will particularly appreciate this resource. I was tickled to find not only simple versions of folktales I like to tell, but a version of a story I learned from my mother through storytimes called "Mr. Wiggle and Mr. Waggle" (who are Miss Cat and Miss Dog in our versions). This is a story told with two thumbs representing the two characters, and the whole audience gets involved with the characters going up the hill and down the hill and up the hill and down the hill etc. to visit each other.
A traditional story chant done with hand and arm actions that I'm eager to learn is called "This is the Key to the Kingdom":
This is the key to the kingdom.
And in the kingdom there is a town,
And in the town there is a hill,
And on the hill there is a street,
And on the street there is a house,
And in the house there is a room.
And in the room there is a bed,
And on the bed there is a basket,
And in the basket there is a blanket,
And under the blanket there is a BABY!
Then, do the whole thing backwards:
Baby under the blanket,
Blanket in the basket,
Basket on the bed,
Bed in the room,
Room in the house,
House on the street,
Street on the hill,
Hill in the town,
Town in the kingdom,
And THIS is the key to the kingdom.
Update: Jane Cobb is right-- this little play is much easier to remember than you might think. It took me three tries before I got it down just right.
What'll I Do With the Baby-o? also has lists of print and audio resources, sample 60 and 30 minute programs, and indexes to songs and rhymes by type (i.e. action rhymes, circle games, rhymes in other languages) and first line, plus the songs recorded on the accompanying compact disc. While the price-tag may be a jolt for some ($39.95 in both Canadian and US dollars, plus shipping), keep in mind that this is a book published by a small press. For me, a storyteller who performs for young children all the time, it's an investment well-spent.
Thanks go to Margaret Read MacDonald, who recommended this book in the last Seattle Storytellers Guild newsletter.