Thursday, December 9, 2010
Spoiler! the PIG ate the NECKLACE!
The first book I can remember was read to me by Sister Anne in first grade. She read it, then we muddled through it many times on our own. Sister Anne was short, like a gnome with a long dark blue habit. She had facial hair, sprouting out of strategically placed moles on her chin. She said she had a baby in the closet, so we had to be quiet not to wake the baby. She also said that Paul Anka was her boyfriend. The facial hair, even at six, I thought was odd, but the baby and the Paul Anka, I was down with that.
I remember The Necklace so well because it was a mystery. There was a seriously funny twist at the end. See, Mrs. Pig wants to have a picnic to show off her fancy marshmallow necklace. She lays out a plush spread and invites all the other animals. I don't remember the other animals except for Chipmunk, who is the detective. When it's discovered that Mrs. Pig's necklace is gone, well, tears and recriminations, my friends. Everyone is a suspect. Everyone is subjected to Chipmunk's cunning and good cop/bad cop routine. I thought it was the duck (or chicken, can't remember exactly what kind of fowl it was.)
In the end, Chipmunk says 'J'accuse!' to Mrs. Pig herself, who in her nervousness, as she is waiting for her guests to arrive, has scarfed down the necklace, then forgot all about it. I sympathize. I've done similar things to marshmallows in times of anxiety. In the end, all is forgiven and the rest of the lovely picnic is ransacked by what are essentially farm animals in waistcoats.
I remember the sensation of seeing the squiggly black lines under the pictures and, suddenly having them bloom into words. One second they're smudges, the next they mean something. I'm sure it was a lot more prosaic than that, a lot of repetitive and boring drills. I put my daughter through the same boring drills every night. But I also see the fire, the leap of understanding as she gets it, and the whole city, every billboard, gas station and Target sign opens up to her. It's awesome
What was the first book you remember reading on your own?