For the love of “sighing flosser”

I have loved libraries ever since I was a kid. My mother got us library cards – each card allowed us to borrow one book against it – and there was a tag and a pocket attached inside the back wrapper of the book that was stamped with the return-by date. Ah, the 90s! Simple and non-digital living!

City Central Library at Malleshwaram, Bangalore

I remember visiting twice a month to return the old books and get new ones. I used to bring home Kannada short story anthologies mostly. There was limited collection of English books available for kids. I vaguely remember an English book series I used to frequent: Top Spin. It was a comic about a group of college kids who used to play Table Tennis. It had a yellow paperback and was released in episodes. That’s all I know about the book and surprisingly, Google failed to find it. Let me know if it rings any bells!

Fast-forward 20+ years, TimeM (6y) brought home a book from his school library last week: Baloney (Henry P.) by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith.

It tells the story of Henry, an alien schoolkid who needs to come up with one very good excuse to explain why he is late for “szkola”, again. Otherwise, his teacher Miss Bugscuffle promises, it’s Permanent Lifelong Detention. Henry’s tall tale of his lost “zimulis” is told in different Earth languages by encrypting certain words into other languages with a key at the end of the book to make sense of them.

I wasn’t particularly “happy” with my son’s choice of the book. My first impression was aligned with many reviews here and in retrospect, I seemed to have judged the book my its cover – literally!

However, TimeM loved the book. He read it at least 3 times before he returned it last Friday. He also made a custom index card with the translated words for efficient lookup.

Index card for translated words made by TimeM

Me, I am just so happy he loves reading. It has become a ritual for him to read before going to bed and we read a book of poems this week!

We also visit the local library here once a month (we’re allowed to checkout many books!).

Stadsbibliotek, Malmö

P.S.: The “sighing flosser” in the title is a spoonerism for flying saucer and was one of the encrypted words.


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