Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A Childhood Reading Mystery I Thought I'd Solved

One of my clearest and funniest memories from first grade--the 1983-1984 school year for me--is the morning I skipped into class with a book from home in my hands and bragged to my teacher that I'd read it all by myself the night before.  This teacher, Mrs. G, was so sweet and pretty and encouraging--I just loved her--and she oohed and ahhed over my accomplishment and asked me if I'd like to read my book to the class.  Oh, yes!  Pride overcame shyness that morning, I guess, because soon I was sitting in The Teacher Chair with my book with all my classmates fanned out around me as I began to read.  The book had a How-I-Spend-My-Day theme, and its final page showed the narrator settled into bed for the night.  My classmates looked awed by my reading skills--"Wow!  Val can read a whole book!  Just like the teacher!"--and I, who had decided as soon as starting kindergarten the fall before that I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up, was having a ball.  The last sentence of the book was something like, "As I fall asleep at night, I hear the owl" or "Outside my window sits an owl."  Since I hadn't read the book out loud before, I hadn't known until reaching the final word on the final page that I couldn't pronounce "owl."  I stumbled and stuttered and "oh-orrrr-ahhh-owwwwrrrruhhhlllllll"-ed as I tried to shape the letters into a word with my mouth, but no.  My teacher, looking puzzled, came over and gently whispered, "Owl.  Owl," but I still couldn't pronounce that word.  ("Horse" was another word that took me awhile, for whatever reason.)  My classmates didn't laugh and didn't seem any less impressed, and I remember nothing else about the experience except how baffled I was by what had just happened.  If I was already, at six years old, as hard on myself as I would be decades later, I likely focused more on the one missed word than the fact that I'd just gotten to "play Teacher" and read aloud to my entire class.  :)  In any case, I have been trying for ages to figure out what that book had been, and I thought I'd finally found it last week.  The book above looked so promising:  The koala bear character takes us through his/her day, and the final page even ends with an illustration of the bear in (a darling patchwork) bed.  Alas, though!  The story ends without a mention of the owl that tripped me up, and the search continues.  I know, we're all thinking, wouldn't it be funny if this IS the book and I'm just not remembering its final page accurately after all these years, but I really don't think so.  :)  Maybe one of these days, as I hunt down and research 80s trivia like this for the memoir, I'll solve the mystery--and send a copy to sweet Mrs. G, as well. 


Marie Rayner said...

I loved reading your memory of this Val. What a brave little girl! I have been looking for a book I used to read my middle son when he was small. I cannot remember the name of it, only that it was about a little boy named Oliver and his teddy bear. His bear snuck out of the house each night, and would return in the movning and Oliver was really curious as to where he went, so one time he followed him. A whole load of teddy bears were meeting in the woods and eating sticky buns. I sure wish I could find it! I know he would love me gifting him with a copy! xoxo

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

What a cute memory you shared here today dear Val.

I've just been sitting here saying the word owl and I can see how it would be hard as a kid to learn to pronounce it. So many things learned as a kid, we don't remember learning and take for granted as an adult.

Have a lovely week ~ FlowerLady

Val said...

Good morning, Marie and Lorraine, ♥

Thank you both for reading. :)

Marie, that sounds like a sweet book too. I'll keep my eyes peeled (what a gross expression) for it. :) And not that "brave" of me--since I wasn't afraid to do it. ;) But thank you. :)

Yes, Lorraine, isn't that something. It's easy to forget that there was a learning process behind so many things. You have a good week too. ♥

La Table De Nana said...

If ever I hear of it:)

I taught my girls to read before kgarden:)
I too wanted to be a teacher when I was very young and loved playing teacher so much..
I have never seen my Littles play.
I do..and Jacques does try to help 3 of them w/ scholl things..it's a great one on one time..I bought books etc..we will see how the year goes:)

Cute story!
Val.. I follow you on Blogovin and Blogger.
On Blogger as soon as I comment and post..I know it's done..On Bloglovin'..I can't comment..when you click on comment nothing happens..since forever..:( Just thought you should know..

Val said...

Hi, :) and I have no idea why that would be, Monique--I'm sorry. I actually stopped using BlogLovin'--I still have an account there, but I very rarely check it. If I can figure out what the issue is there, I'll let you know. Thank you for telling me--and for commenting so often even if it's a bit of an extra step for you. :)

Maybe this will be the boys' big reading year, yes. :)

La Table De Nana said...


Goodnight owl?

There was a nother busy day koala board book..so similar to yours but a watering can w/ the Koala on the cover..it brought me to Ebay..but no book:(

Was iit a board book Val?

Are we sure there's a Koala? lol:)

Val said...

:) I only struggled through the word "owl" once, so I don't think those are it, but thank you, Monique. :) It would have had to have been published before 1984, as well. I have no idea how else to search for the book. If doing a full-text search for every book on amazon were possible, it would be easier to find it, but the "Look inside" feature isn't available for all them all. Maybe someday. :) I have always thought the narrator of the story was a little girl--and at first, I thought it was an Eloise Wilkin book, but that seems to be wrong too. I don't know. Maybe I'll just happen upon it someday. Too bad I didn't/couldn't keep a diary in the 1st grade! ;)

La Table De Nana said...


Nellie said...

Oh, I wish I could help you with this one, Val. I have been a "book person" for most of my life!:-) Such a good story to share with us. xo Nellie

Lisa said...

Too bad it wasn't the one. I hope you find it someday, because there are a lot of children's books out there... :)

Val said...

Thank you, Nellie and Lisa. :)