Not a 21st century second grade, but my Grade Two when I was a wee bay-boy assaulting educational Everests in one of Joey’s brand new Reward-For-Joining-Confederation schools.
I flashed back to an image of my little boy self – worsted sweater and all –hunched over my workbook drawing lines connecting similar objects, circling hidden items and identifying matching sets. Apparently, I enjoyed myself except for occasional distractions caused by Fat Harry jabbing me in the back with his pencil point.
A man can’t help what enters his mind when he opens a book and even though ‘Scruncheon and Touton’ is not a Grade Two workbook, that’s where the first pages transported me. Grade Two.
Although ‘Scruncheon and Touton’ isn’t a school workbook, neither is it a storybook, only in as much as the imagination can create a story from almost anything.
The work of the mother and daughter team of Nancy and Laurel Keating, the book is designed for small children.
It is a picture book encouraging children to search for hidden objects and clap their hands with glee when they locate them, making Mammy and Daddy and Granny and Pappy irrationally proud.
If I counted correctly, there are eleven double-paged panels of Newfoundland scenes in which children can seek-and-find the items listed on the left-hand side. Items such as a horseshoe, an apple, rubber boots, and pigeons.
Hold on. Sit, Rover!
The first thing kiddies are supposed to do is find … well, who do you think? Scruncheon and Touton, the couple of dogs in the title.
Scruncheon is a Newfoundland pup and his … cousin? ... Touton, a yellow Labrador Retriever.
I figure I must have aced Grade Two because it took me no time to find all the hidden objects in the first six panels.
However, the seventh sidetracked me.
Quick as Granny caught the weasel, I spotted and circled all the listed items, but then I eyed a drawing of myself that reined in my pony.
I can’t fathom how the Keatings managed to know it, but they have drawn a perfect sketch of me at the age I might have been in Grade Two.
It’s a scene of a family scoff with all the chaos of visiting kit and kin. See the glowering boy, arms folded crankily, cap brim hauled down over his eyes, sulking behind the woodbox? That’s me.
I’m probably sooking because I wasn’t allowed one of the cupcakes sitting among the grub spread out on the kitchen table. Or because the babies are getting more attention than me – than I?
Speaking of baked goods …
Cooling on the counter is a batch of freshly baked bread. Oh, maybe that’s why I’m brooding by the stove. I’ve been refused the heel of a hot-from-the-oven loaf.
One last thing and I promise to turn the page. There’s a basket of dinner rolls to the right of the sink that remind me of a cute anecdote about one of Pop’s girls.
Indulge me, please.
Last week Pop’s Girl came home from school – she’s in Grade Two, by the way –to the smell of fresh rolls Gram had baked in muffin pans, giving them the shape of … well, muffins.
Excited because she loves Gram’s bread, Pop’s Girl burst into the kitchen, spotted the hot rolls and exclaimed, “Gram, you cooked bread muffins!”
Thank you. Only a doting Pop would tell that story. Or a Gram, perhaps.
On to panel nine, ‘At The Provincial Museum’, which has one of the most tickling drawings in the whole book.
In the bottom right-hand corner is a glass display case exhibiting arrowheads and other artifacts.
Size up the two boys peering through the glass, especially the one facing front.
As does his buddy opposite, me buck-o has his nose squooshed so flat against the glass that if he has neglected his nasal hygiene, his boogers might be visible.
Three marginal Happy Faces! ☺ ☺ ☺
Among the hundreds of drawings in the book, only a couple of specific items trouble me.
Half-buried in the harbour bottom of panel four is what might be an unexploded naval mine. [!]
And in other panels there are pairs of glasses lying lost or neglected on the ground. Neglected glasses make a myopic fellow such as me – such as I? – uneasy.
Thank you for reading … and if you haven’t already done so, enjoy Grade Two.