The Adventures of TinTin

Tin Tin
(From Beyond the Marquee)

About exactly a month ago, I listed seventeen children’s picture books I was fond of.

Today, I wish to journey across Egypt, the ocean, America, and even the moon -with TinTin.

First, I must have you young ‘uns travel back to a time before graphic novels were so prevalent; back when Americans just didn’t get it, though other countries did. Picture a world without so much variety, but still with motorized transportation and microwave ovens.

The world of my childhood.

Occasionally, my mother would bravely venture into The City with all three of us rambunctious children. After finding parking, we’d pile out of our station wagon and walk up the steps to the Salt Lake Public Library.

This was also before they’d built the big, fancy building there now. Ours was a more modest setup -a large, square structure with odd exterior walls of cement.

Never you mind how long ago that actually was. (If you ask my six-year-old, my childhood was around the time electricity was invented.)

The point of all this rambling nostalgia is that Hergés’ TinTin was a very special treat.

We didn’t live in Salt Lake County, so the library card for my mother was an extra cost. We didn’t own that many books. I’m certain we had no comic books or graphic novels around the house.

So, we each felt a mounting excitement as we literally mounted the stairs up to the children’s section, ran quietly through the main area, and turned left into the section of special, out-of-country books.

There, on the wall, the librarian would have set out all the TinTin books they had. It was like a candy store of literature.

My mother would finally catch up to us, note us sprawling on furniture with a book each, and sneak off to the adult section. We were good for a solid ten minutes.

What was The Adventures of TinTin to us?

As I said, those books were a special treat. They were also adventure, expression, art, and European humour. We were enamored with these silent cartoons we controlled.

Later, I would discover Astérix. That’s a story for another time. These days, graphic novels are everywhere. I pick up a few for my children from our own public library whenever we go.

Heck, they even have some with action-packed tales like The Laws of Motion: the story of Isaac Newton.

This old hipster says that’s all well and good, but classics like TinTin need to be read. If you haven’t ever, look into getting a copy. They’re still around, and they’re worth the time.

Children’s Books, a Decision

This month, our neighborhood book group is having a casual get-together; a potluck. “Bring your favorite children’s book to share,” the e-mail instructed.

Ah, favorites. I’ve mentioned them before.

Although, I don’t feel pressure to show off in my selection of a favorite children’s book. Instead, I feel an anxious inability to limit myself to just one.

I’ve even told myself I’ll only choose from picture books. Still, I’d have an easier time if, say, I’d been told to choose my favorite child (yes, I have a favorite).

After looking over our two bookshelves of children’s picture books, I’ve narrowed things down to a paltry 17 titles.

Favorite Books

Dinotopia, by James Gurney
The Sneetches and Other Stories, by Dr. Suess
The Adventures of TinTin, by Hergé
The Jolly Postman or Other People’s Letters, by Janet & Allan Ahlberg
Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak
Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel Silverstein
There’s a Nightmare in my Closet, by Mercer Mayer
Magical Hands, by Marjorie Barker and Yoshi
Oh, Were They Ever Happy, by Peter Spier
Le Livre de Bruits, by Soledad Bravi
Just Go to Bed, by Mercer Mayer
The Dot, by Peter H. Reynolds
The Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf
The Napping House, by Audrey and Don Wood
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst
King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub, by Don and Audrey Wood (sadly, not pictured); and
Tuesday, by David Wiesner (also, sadly, not pictured).

This would be a long post, indeed, if I were to tell why each of these is significant to me.

The short answer is that I have an emotional connection with each: humorous, happy, relatable, impressed by quality, familiar -and all, save two, nostalgic.

I now realize I’ll need to devote an article to these, one at a time, in the future. They deserve nothing less.

In the meantime, how do I choose?

Once the hour arrives, shall I close my eyes and Eeny, Meeny, Miny Moe it? Point? Pick a number?

Well… what would YOU do if your (bookgroup) asked YOU?