Sunday, 29 September 2013

30 Day Book Challenge: Isa's Day 21 - First Book I Remember Reading

I suppose this means the first novel or something? But I don't like how that makes it seem as if those picture books, the first ones every child has, are somehow less important, less formative than, as Alice Liddell would call them, "books with no pictures in them".

My parents would read me one of the 101 stories in the "101 Stories About Animals" every night, and I guess I must have ended up reading them by myself. I remember the one I got read most often was "The Kitten Who Bit His Nails", because I had the "terrible" habit of biting my nails.

It's short enough, so I can translate the whole thing:

The Kitten Who Bit His Nails

Once upon a time there was a naughty Kitten who spent the whole day biting his nails. His mother would be very cross with him but, no matter how many punishments or smacks she'd give him, she couldn't make the Kitten stop sucking, nibbling, and even tearing apart his poor nails.
Tired of lecturing him, Mother Cat decided to start promising him things:

"If you leave your paws alone I'll give you beautiful presents!"

And she'd wave mountains of chocolates and wondrous toys at him. But all in vain: the Kitten was very stubborn, and he kept biting and biting whatever was left of his claws.
Then Mother Cat tied some thick woollen mittens to his paws. But the rascal bit through them and started biting his nails.
Poor Mother Cat tried putting a very bitter cream on her little boy's paws. Wasted work! The scamp thought it tasty and said, "Meow!" while licking his chops. Mother Cat grew despondent and said, "What can one do?! Leave him be!" And gave up on correcting the Kitten's bad habit.
Springtime came. The trees were covered in new leaves, the chatty birds called to each other from branch to branch...
Our Kitten went out to play many times with the neighbour's three kittens.
One beautiful morning one of them decided to climb an oak tree. He took a leap and zap!, with his claws out he held on to the trunk and climbed it to the top. Then, just like an acrobat, he jumped from branch to branch, while the startled birds flew away in a panic.
The other kittens followed their brother, through branches and leaves.
The bad Kitten also wanted to follow them... But... Bother! What a weird thing! Every time he threw himself at the tree to grasp its trunk, he'd slide down and fall on his tail, as if his paws were all soapy.
He tried again and again, he even shook with impatience! But no matter how hard he'd try, and twist, and jump, our desperate Kitten would always end up on the ground beneath the tree.

"Wow, you're really bad at this!" Taunted his friends. "Look at this skinny cat, who can't even climb a tree!"

Mother Cat, who had been watching from afar, went to him and told him:

"See? If you hadn't bitten your nails you could climb all the way up there," and she added, shaking her head, "Mothers are always right."

The Kitten, embarrassed, shrunk himself and ran away to hide behind a bale of hay. And he couldn't feel the slightest urge to bite his nails, you may believe that...
After this setback, in truth, never again did the Kitten nibble on a single one of his paws! A month later he could climb the trees and, by the end of Summer, he was the champion of tree climbing! He'd climb better than all other kittens in the neighbourhood. So much so they started calling him "The Acrobat Kitten."

As you can see this is a terrible tale on how children should succumb to peer pressure from "friends" who think nothing of putting you down when you are somehow different from the norm.
My parents should be ashamed of reading this tripe to me.
But I showed them! I kept on biting my nails until I was 15!

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