Puppies (Snapshot series, Hinkler Books 2008)
I couldn’t find a photo of this little book’s cover online, so you’ll have to take my word for it that it’s very cute. The publisher’s site gives its ‘interest age’ as 6–12 years. I can report that the interest extends well beyond that, though I suppose a notice saying ‘Interest Age: 6–12 years and the demented’ wouldn’t sell many books.
But this book has featured in many pleasant interchanges with Mollie in the nursing home. Yesterday morning, it was sitting in the middle of her table. She gestured towards it with fluttering fingers. Though it was pretty much the same gesture that she’d used towards the piece of buttered raisin bread the nurse had given her with a piece of kitchen tongs, and which she had no intention of putting anywhere near her mouth, I interpreted her to mean that she wanted to look at the book. I placed it right in front of her, closed. With some difficulty, she opened it, and said, in he fluttering voice, ‘That’s funny.’ I was sitting on her left, and had to stand and peer over the half-open cover to see the page she’d opened to. It was the end papers, plain green except where someone had printed her name in block letters. She touched her first name with an index finger and said, half questioning, half marvelling, ‘Mollie.’ And if that lovely moment wasn’t enough, when we reached page five or so, where there is a lot of text, she touched the last word on the page, and read it too, only sightly more tentatively, ‘Puppies.’
It may not have intellectual heft of her reading of twenty years ago, but it looks to me as if there’s still pleasure to be had in reading at her intellectual limit.