Prams, backwards


Young fathers angle their prams through the shop door backwards, expertly reversing without mirrors and without grazing the wooden ankles of a single shelf. Then they assess the angle, the space and the occupants of the pram. They often consult a reading list on their phone.

Young women, drive in forwards. Then they repack the luggage, apologise twice to everybody and say that they love books. Their prams are always loaded with children, clothing, spare shoes, water bottles, shopping, toys, days, hours and minutes.

Regardless of who drives, the passengers look out serenely and climb out hopefully.

Everyone wants The Very Hungry Caterpillar and I hardly ever have it.

Everyone is told not to fiddle.

All children stare at the fishing tree.

They always leave a bear or a shoe next to Science and Nature, then the family have to come back again to find it.


Sally and Jane read The Very Hungry Caterpillar


Sally and Jane read a book to me last night when I was the visitor. It was The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Sally reads beautifully. Jane helps beautifully. Sally is 5 and Jane is 7.

They are both strong, creative and resourceful ladies!

Sally holds the book and Jane sits opposite and helps upside down. Sally traces each word with her finger, translating the shapes and lines as she goes; she has read this book before and has a rich store of information and experience to keep the ride through the text fluent and meaningful.

They, both of them bend over the page pulling sound from symbols, making sense of sound, interpreting story from sense, a triple rendering.

They both of them bend over the page importing colour, texture, animation, sound, story, humour, pathos and life from the words and the illustrations and now they have made the story into a physical structure of caterpillar, food and cocoon, of hunger, greed and regret, of life and renewal.

Sally jumps from letter to word and across sentences and back again, she refers briefly to illustration and back again to symbols. She follows instinct and memory in a complex play of eyes, speech and satisfaction.

Sometimes Jane prompts too quickly. She is asked gently to hush.

Shhhh, Jane shhhh….

Sometimes Jane prompts too slowly. Then Sally allows her a generous and obvious space in which to insert a sound or a word or a clue.

Quick, Jane…..

They look over the page and over the book as they look over all of life, solicitous, curious and appreciative.