Saturday, April 29, 2017

I, Mystery Reader

 Recently I volunteered to be a mystery reader for my grandson Luke’s pre-school class.  Older brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles, parents and grandparents are invited to bring in an age-appropriate book to school and read it to their little guy, or girl, and the rest of the class.  Most have limited opportunities to perform as work or school interferes.  Not me since I’m retired.  So I did.
   My being a mystery reader meant that I could not tell Luke beforehand that I would be coming to read to his class.  However, the teacher said that I should give her clues to my identity, clues which she would give the class just prior to my read so that the appropriate child (Luke in my case) would be able to guess the identity of the mystery reader.
      My clues were:  (1) He likes monster movies (2) Halloween is his favorite holiday and (3) He has a giant spider in his garage.  The last would be a dead give-away since I made a point the weekend before of pointing out to Luke that the big fake Halloween spider was still hanging from a ladder in the garage.

    I entered the pre-school at the appropriate time and the principal went into the classroom to inform the teacher I was there.   I tried to listen in as I waited in the hallway to hear the teacher give the clues but it was too noisy.  Pretty soon Luke's teacher came out with THREE little boys in tow.  "Apparently there are three grandpas who have a giant spider in their garage," the teacher said.  All three little boys thought THEIR grandpa was the mystery reader.

     THANKFULLY, Luke was one of them and when he saw me he ran across the hall and gave me a big hug.  Awwwww, so sweet.  I felt bad for the other two little boys who looked pretty disappointed.   I guess maybe I should have added that I have a coffin in the shed too?  Maybe that would have set me apart from the other grandpas who like monster movies, Halloween and have a giant spider in their garage.

     So I read The Beast in the Bathtub sitting on a chair that would be too small for a first-grader.  My time there should count for practice if I were a yoga student.  I'm gathering that not that many adults volunteer to be mystery readers.  The kids seemed to enjoy the story, though they liked the pictures more.  I had to make sure I showed each page and even then some kid would say, "I didn't see it."  Eventually I had a few pre-schoolers standing around me trying to look over my shoulder.

     When I read, "The Beast hit a can of marbles which went everywhere," and showed that page, a kid inquired loudly, "Where are the marbles?"  Hey, how would I know?  I didn't illustrate it.  Give me a break.  The marbles were on the next page actually, so I had to flip ahead to show them.

     I read one part where the little boy in the book says his prayers:  "And Bless the beast."  Some kid repeated, "Blast the beast?"  I wanted to say, "No.  BLESS the beast, not BLAST the beast.  Haven't you ever said prayers, kid?" Probably an appropriate time to start a discussion on blessings, God, prayers and such but it might be frowned upon at this public school.

    After I finished, the teacher asked the kids if they would like a beast under their bed.  Surprisingly, most said yes.  Then one little boy jumped up and said, "I would punch the beast."  Then this little boy next to him jumped up too and said, "I would punch him in the face."  Ahh, great story to stimulate discussion among pre-schoolers.  Now there was chaos, mayhem and disorder.  My job here was done.