Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Really Strong Chewy Noodle

My kids are book-crazy.  They would make me read to them all day if I didn't drag them out of the house.  They get on kicks where they'll read a particular book over and over until they have it memorized, and then they'll continue reading it until I can't take it anymore and have to hide it from them.  They correct me when I get lazy or try to take shortcuts by leaving out words.  Today I got busted leaving out the word "tattered" in describing a character's robe.  This was a book we hadn't read for a couple weeks.  I don't think either of the girls had ever said the word "tattered" aloud before, but they definitely noticed when it went missing, and surprised me by shouting it out.

Lately they've been into these Vietnamese books that we picked up when we were more invested in teaching them their mom's mother tongue.  But they don't want Mom to read these books to them in Vietnamese.  They want me to make up stories to go with the pictures.  "Talk to it, Daddy!" they demand.  "What's the piggy say, Daddy?  What's they guy say?  What's the flower say?" 

I don't mind making up the stories, but recently I've been turning the tables on them, and asking them to tell me what's happening in the books.  In addition to interpreting the pictures, they borrow character names and tropes from other books.  When they get stuck, I give them some guidance, usually in ways that make the story more ridiculous.

Through this method of collaboration, we have come up with a pretty consistent narrative for this book, whose title translates to something like Strong Chewy Piece of Noodle.  Most of the dialogue was created by the kids.  I'm better than them at exposition. 

The Strong Chewy Noodle

One morning, Raja the red elephant was taking his noodles to the restaurant in the village.

As he walked, the end of his noodle got caught on a mango tree.

He crossed the ravine and the noodle kept unraveling.

By the time he got to the restaurant, the bowl was empty.  "Hey!  Where's my pasta?" said Mr. Hippo

"You can't go on the swing," Re-punzel Bird said to Tianna Bird. "It's my turn." The swing was made of noodle.

Then Sally Pig came down the road and said, "Hey! Can I eat that pasta?"

After she ate all the pasta, she got big and round like a ball.  She wasn't s'posed to eat all the pasta.

Then Re-punzel and Tianna had to push and pull Sally.

They went to the doctor's office.  The doggy (is that a doggy?) pulled the pasta noodle from Sally's mouth.

The doggy and the kitty and the birds pulled on the noodle some more, all the way outside. "Heave! Ho! Heave! Ho! Heave! Ho!"  The flower said, "Hello!"

Then the piggy went to restaurant.  He wasn't round like a ball anymore.  "Oh no!" He said.

He didn't want to eat the strong chewy noodle.


I wrote a little something on Aiming Low this week.  It's a letter to my kids from beyond the grave.  It's macabre and passive-aggressive. 


  1. We have a book about a frog that's in Spanish, so I make up the words to the story whenever I read it aloud, which is kind of a pain, because they remember all the ways the story changes each time I get stuck having to read it. So, I hid the damned thing in a trash can right before we moved.

    1. You should have just read it in Spanish. That shit is easy.

  2. I accidently bought my son a book in Dutch. I finally had to hide to hide the damn thing because he was frustrated that the story kept changing every time we read it. We also have a number of books in French which I do translate for him pretty well, but it's kind of funny having a whole section of books that are "off limits" for Daddy's reading time.

    1. That is funny. The weird thing at our house is that the Vietnamese books are off limits to Mom because the kids are more comfortable with English.

  3. Is there a support group for abused dad readers? I would like to join if so.

  4. I hate when my noodle gets caught in the mango tree.

  5. You are doing a good thing by having them give their interpretation.. They're exercising their imagination as well as improving their language skills.. Kudos to u Dad!.
    I bet they would love the Shel Silverstein books...

    1. I loved Shel Silverstein as a kid. I'll probably get some for them soon. Thanks for the reminder!

  6. Aha! Today I found out who Sally is.

  7. My kids have the same addiction to reading right now too. One of their favs is that book "Good Dog Carl" which doesn't have any words so you're expected to improvise the narration. I find it much more exhausting upon repetitive readings than just reading books with words.

    Plus the book is about a mom that leaves her baby home alone with the dog for an afternoon. I'm pretty sure she heads out to drink. At least she does in my versions of the story.

  8. I will never look at a noodle the same. Ever.

  9. You first translation (the Grimm mash-up) makes me cry tears of joy. I keep meaning to ask you if I can add it to my Character Assassination Carousel page as an honor killing.

    This is right up there. My favorite bit is the flower that said "Hello!" Non sequitur much, ladies? The girls did a lovely job. May their noodles be ever al dente.

    1. Sorry to take so long to reply. Of course you can use the Ho Chi Grimm post! (Obviously, with proper attribution and adulation.)


Don't hold back.


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