Monday, 18 April 2016

Book Review

Why Does the Tortoise Have a Cracked Shell?  is a charming Kenyan folk tale rendered into Polish. If you buy your own book--instead of borrowing the Edinburgh Public Library's copy--you get the added fun of sticking the included stickers (naklejki) to the correct places on the pages when prompted. Some enterprising reader has already stuck the EPL's stickers albeit somewhat imperfectly.

This is a highly improving story, the moral of which is not to eat all the food of the creatures who teach you how to fly or you will REGRET it. Meanwhile, it has the names of some African animals and birds in Polish. Not all these names turn up in a dictionary. For some reason, Herr Langenscheidt does not think it worth your while to know that a guziec is a warthog.

Meanwhile. the beautifully named bąkojad (pronounced bonk-O-yad) bird has no satisfying English name. The Latin is "buphagus africanum", so we ought to call it an African Buffag, but do we? No. According to Wikipedia, we call it a yellow-billed oxpecker, which frankly left me none the wiser.

Although mildly entertaining and edifying, Why Does the Tortoise Have a Cracked Shell? lacks the pathos and genius of the Muminki stories. Apparently having emotional reactions while learning is extremely important to memory, so I shall be looking for more Polish Moomins the next time I go to the library. You will notice I cannot remember off-hand what "cracked shell" is in Polish, even though I have eaten and drunk memory boosting substances all day. * However, I still remember from yesterday that a mattress is a materac because Muminek pulled his off his łóżko to bed down next to his mummy's łóżko as he returned to the rodzina's long zimnowy hibernation sen and...and... Wah, sniff.

*Eggs, salmon, walnuts, coffee, lentils, milk, green tea, dark chocolate (in homemade gingerbread), pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, trout, baked potato, water.  Brain boosting slightly thwarted in the evening by a glass of fridge-cold Frascati.

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