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.
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