Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tintin, the beginning

Helena at the start of the summer spent some time at her grandmother's house. When we picked her up, she was more than proud to show off the pile of Tintin books she'd read. She had to tell me all about them.

And at that moment we resolved to work our way through the lot of them (in French). We borrowed a few volumes from my mother-in-law and set off.

Helena was reading them in a somewhat haphazard order, but I decided to start at the beginning: Tintin au Congo.

(It turns out that this is in fact the second Tintin volume, after Tintin au pays de soviets, which story was originally serialized and has the distinction of never having been colourized. Anyway, Congo is in the #1 position on the back cover, where all the volumes (minus the Soviets) are pictured in order.)

Every time I settled down to read Tintin, Helena would join me. This meant she would want to tell me what happened, tell me all her favourite parts; even better, she would want to read it aloud to me, and so we'd have to start again from the beginning. We made several such starts on several rainy evenings. Progress was slow. On the up side, Helena's French vocabulary and pronunciation is much better than mine, so it was quite a boon to have her by my side. I managed to finish the book before summer's end by "sneaking" a page or two at a time after Helena's bedtime.

(Helena made it through just one additional Tintin story this summer. They're more involving, I guess, when you're sitting in the nook by the treasure trove of them at grandma's house.)

Tintin's never held any particular appeal for me, but there's no denying he's well loved by a great number of people the world over. The plot of Tintin au Congo wanders all over, but there's a great sense of adventure and it's much funnier than I expected it to be, in a gentle kind of way. I fully intend to read them all, eventually, if only to know what it is my daughter's talking about.

But thank you, Tintin, for turning my daughter into something of a reader.


rachel said...

Is she like my lad, able to read any word she lays eyes on, but disinclined to sit and do so if the words outnumber the pictures by any proportion? He loves Tintin too, as did I at that age. It was the only comic I ever saw as a child, besides what was in the newspaper.

Lucky you, we are in an era of readily available comics! There are, of course, LOTS of titles produced in French. One of Byron's favourite series is originally French; it gets translated as "Sardine in Space". His other favourite is from the US, but it's so popular I bet it's available in French: "Bone", by Jeff Smith.

There are others he likes, too, but those + Tintin are his big three, and get read over and over and over.

Isabella said...

Yeah, word/picture ratio is a big mental hurdle to overcome, so comics are great! There's a huge French-language culture around bande dessinée, but I'm still struggling to find things suitable to the age level. Thanks for the tip on Sardine in Space — sounds like a winner! I'm looking it up tout de suite.

Maylin said...

I've never read Tintin, but it intrigues me because of Tom McCarthy's novel C, which I see you are currently reading. He wrote a non-fiction book on Tintin that I plan to read, after reading a review of C that suggests the inspiration for a lot of that novel comes from the Tintin books - a fixation on radio messages being the key one. I may become a fan yet. . .

Isabella said...

I'm looking forward to reading McCarthy's Tintin book someday — thought I'd get a few more Tintin volumes under my belt first. That's really interesting about the C–Tintin connection — I'll try to keep my eyes open for other simililarities. (Am about a third way through C and have mixed feelings about it.)