Last Christmas…Santa, took the form of Ravi Uncle, and presented my kids with the whole series of “The Diary of the Wimpy Kid”. My kids had loved reading it. They had already read the series but they were thrilled nonetheless, to own a bound version of the whole series. It had influenced them enough to write their diary, the same cartoon like way… I was impressed at the neatness with which they had making notes of their days in their dairy…
Watching her Didi’s being fascinated with this book…Richa, developed a great interest in these books herself. Most times, she brings the book to me and asks me to read it for her. She is not interested in knowing more than a line’s worth on each page that sums up the figures on the page.
Lately, she has also started to interpret the illustrations herself, since she doesn’t find a reader for her, when she needs one. Recently, when she brought the book “The Ugly Truth”. She read the book to me..like this!
Another time, she had also called these drawings as “Noodles”.
Sometimes, its not difficult for her to guess the situation like in this case where she said, “They are throwing all the thrash around and making a mess”. I had almost heard her say..”They are recycling the thrash”
There is another series of books that the triplets love. They make it a point to refrain from reading themselves..except hear it in my voice. Its about this preposterous “Sideways stories of the Wayside School”. Its the ridiculousness of the story that they prefer rendered in my voice and the reactions that follow, happen first hand, as we face each other.
I have been chosen the official reader of that book to them and they have maintained that rule. Its been months since we started the series and have yet to complete it.
So, on the nights when they want my company, when they want me to put them to sleep reading something..WACKY!, after their call to their grandparents,( in whom they find the best audience as they render some raga they must have learnt that week), they turn to me to give them the final lullaby before they fall asleep. (BTW, Shouldn’t such routines be reserved for Dads and Grandparents?!).
We cozy up on their bed..that can fit me along with all the three of them..and we continue this reading saga...
Well, we’ve been at it for months now. Just down....3-4 chapters into the book…I am already falling asleep, my dreams a flow...as my babbles get incomprehensible, my kids wake me up and let me stop for the night. I take their leave and hope to reach my bed safely before I fall asleep again.
It is the story of this weird school of thirty floors, with only one room per floor and missing its nineteenth floor, One steps directly into the 20th floor from the 18th floor. There is no scope of asking questions like “Why?” or “How?” in this book because every page is riddled with weirdities.
(At one time, a student gets a job of delivering something to the nineteenth floor. Imagine the students confusion).
Even as the first chapter starts..in “Wayside school is falling down”, the mailman asks for “Mrs Jewls”, a teacher of the Wayside School and as long as the yard MAN, Louis answers saying “Yeah, that’s me”, the package is his to have..but only so long as he says..”Right, I’m Mrs Jewls”.
After climbing 20 floors up to Mrs Jewls class, who is teaching her students the concept of gravity, he is unable to open the door having his hands occupied. The teacher Mrs Jewls, to be fair to her students, holds a spelling bee to choose the best kid to open the door. All this while, the heavy package is ready to slip off the yard teacher’s sweaty hands.
Even as he enters the classroom, he’s not allowed to place the package down until he finds out whats inside, so that he can avoid doing the job “twice”. As soon as they know that its a computer…Mrs Jewls places the computer at a window and pushes the computer down to demonstrate to her students the concept of gravity. Telling them..”computers are wonderful machines and teaches things faster”
The kids in Mrs Jewls class are each as wacky as the teacher and the school. Its a mad adventure one following the next.
So, today I read them the story of TODD, who has been struggling to stay in school beyond 12.30pm. Everyday, he fails the discipline test in Mrs Jewls class and is packed off home early in the kindergartner bus, because his name has figured for more than 3 times under the DISCIPLINE label. It was the story of Todd’s resolve to stay at school for a whole day and, how he manages to fail it, again just like every other day.
As a kid, I didn’t have the fortune of reading such wacky stories. As much as the story is wacky and weird, it does prompt the kids to think.
Consider this excerpt from the book.
“Did you get in trouble a lot?” asked Todd.
“NO, I never got in trouble,” said Bob.
Todd smiled and nodded his head.
“Did you like to pull girls pigtails?” asked Paul.
“Of course,” said Bob. “Who doesn’t?”
“Did you like ice cream?”, asked Maurecia.
“I loved it,” said Bob.
“What is your favorite subject?” asked Jenny.
“Spelling” said the hobo.
“Spelling!” exclaimed Jenny. “I hate spelling!”
“I once came in first place in a spelling bee, out of all the kids in my school,” Bob said proudly.
“Well how come you became a hobo?” asked Dameon. “I mean, if you’re such a good speller?”
“I’m not sure,” said Bob. “When you grow up, you’re supposed to turn into something. Some kids turn into dentists. Others turn into Bank Presidents. I didn’t turn into anything. So, I became a hobo.”
“Did you ever try to get a job?” asked Calvin.
“I tried,” said Bob. “But nobody would hire me because I didn’t wear socks.”
“SO, why didn’t you just wear socks?” asked Eric Fry.
“I told you. I don’t believe in socks. Yes, the girl with the cute front teeth.”
Rondi lowered her hand. She was missing her two front teeth. “What do you eat?” she asked.
“Mulligan stew,” said Bob.
“There was once a hobo named Mulligan”, said Bob. “He made the first mulligan stew”.
“Was he a good cook?” asked Todd.
“No, he was eaten by cannibals”.
“Yuck!” everyone said together, except for Dana who was very confused. She thought Bob has said he was eaten by cannonballs.
Allison raised her had. “Can’t you just wear socks, even if you don’t believe in them?” she asked.
“Socks!” Bob shouted so loud it scared everybody. “Is that all you kids ever talk about? Socks! Socks! Socks! Albert Einstein didn’t wear any socks! Why should I?”
“Who’s Albert Einstein?” asked Eric Ovens.
Mrs Jewls answered that question. She said, “Albert Einstein was the smartest man who ever lived.”
“Was he also a hobo?”, asked D.J.
“No, he was a great scientist,” said Ms Jewls.
“Why didn’t Albert Einstein wear socks?” asked Joy.
“Because socks makes you stupid, “ said Bob.
“That’s not true, “ said Mrs Jewls. “Albert Einstein was just too busy thinking about big important things to remember to put on his socks.”
“Maybe” said Bob. “But remember I told you, I won the school spelling bee? Well, the day I won it, I forgot to wear socks. Think about it.”
Everyone thought about it
“So after that I never wore socks again.” said Bob. Mac raised his hand. “Once I could only find one of my socks,” he said. “Man, I looked everywhere for it…..You’ll never guess where I finally found it.”
“in the refrigerator,” said Bob.
“Mac’s mouth dropped open. “How’d you know?”
Bob shrugged. “Where else?”
Everybody had lots more questions for Hobo Bob, but Mrs Jewls rang her cowbell. “Show-and-tell is over,” she announced. “Let’s all thank Bob.”
“Thank you, Bob” everyone said together.
“You’re welcome,” he replied
“Do you know the way out of the school?” asked Sharie.
“I’m not sure,” said Bob.
“Just go straight down the stairs,” said Sharie.
“Thank you”, said Bob.
“But don’t go in the basement,” warned Sharie.
“I won’t,” said Bob. He shook Sharie’s hand, then waved good-bye to the rest of the class and headed out the door.
Everybody waved back. Sharie returned to her seat. It was time for their weekly spelling test. “Everyone take out a piece of paper and a pencil,” said Mrs Jewls.
“The first word is---“
“Wait a second!” called Calvin. “I’m not ready yet.”
Mrs Jewls waited while all the children took off their socks.
:-) :-) :-)
P.S. And trust me! I did google to find its true that, Einstein didn’t wear socks! Not even, if he were going to the White House for dinner. He even wore women shoes sometimes. In fact, I got to find out a lot more facts on Albert Einstein.