The Little Girl Who Chose Babar


I like listening to young people talk about what they read. I like the way they stand and gesture and run out of words. This is soooo good. Oh my God, this is so good. This is soooo good.

They rarely analyse, criticise or predict. The book is relevant or not, there is not much in between. The book becomes a fragment of them or it doesn’t.

One girl said that when she reads, everything becomes real. She looked at me intensely, anxiously, daring me to disagree. I did not disagree. She said: Oh my God, I loved Twilight. Her friend who is tall and gracious and grave, said: I have read Twilight, too, and I think that – but her  friend interrupted, I believe that when I read it, it is all true. She described her two shelves at home, packed with books, spines, titles, only the best ones. She has read them all.

Younger readers have to describe even more intense and glittering experiences with even less words. Geronimo Stilton is soooo crazy, Across the Nightingale Floor is like… mad. The Eregons are – but this boy had no words.  He then offered, politely, a suitable description for me: it was quite good, very good.

But his own words of his own experience, he did not share with me.

One girl, nine years old, described a book, a reader in her classroom that she wanted so much she might die. It was a mystery that you solve as you read it, it is soooo good.  it is soooo fun,  it is even on the internet!

A small child, about four years old chose Babar. Her father thought it not the right one. She turned away, clutching the book, frowning, furious, she wore pink gumboots and a red dress, she had scarf that trailed on the floor, she was organised for the cold.  And she would not let her father take the book, though he worked hard to retrieve it, to choose a better one. But there was no better one; there was only Babar and there were no words to explain.

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