My first foray into speaking the English language as a child, apart from listening to my parents talk and learning the odd word from telly programmes, were the Ladybird ‘Well-loved tales’ series. They were graded 1 to 3, according to difficulty. My mom would get them from a store in old PJ as well as the Anthonian book store in Brickfields. The first book I read (grade 1, of course) was The Three Little Pigs, which I was taught to read with different voice pitches for the various characters in the story. No videotaped evidence, phew.

As I got on to the higher grade books, there was the brothers Grimm’s Rumpelstiltskin. It’s the one with the young common woman that was married off to a king who expects her to spin straw into gold by the first anniversary of their marriage, due to the folly of her mom. And as we all know, she was pregnant by the end of the year and did manage to turn straw into gold but with the aid of an imp, who, in return, demands possession of her baby if she couldn’t guess its name (it=the imp lah).

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