By the age of six, I had produced my first book. It was a purely derivative work, the novelization of a cinematic adaptation of a literary classic. An absolute tour de force, if I may so humbly say -- I acted as editor, author, illustrator, and publisher.
Cover | Title Page | One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six | Seven
To be honest, it has been downhill since. I am still languishing in obscurity thirteen years later.
The comment I remember most vividly from Mrs. Hood was that I should try and draw Alice the "same" from panel to panel. I am still appalled by her matter-of-fact crushing of the freedom of artistic license, and regard her as an art Nazi to this very day!
Regardless, she was an otherwise benevolent, humorous woman, and her class was the most enjoyable time I had at elementary school. We were first graders; her penchant for answering the telephone with a chirpy "Pizza Pizza! How may we take your order?" was the height of comedic sophistication.
On April Fools' Day, while we all sat clustered towards her on the carpet, she looked at us with wide, serious eyes and told us, in a voice choked with regret, that we all had detention forever. There were gasps of horror; I, the model student, almost cried. I was in fact on the verge of very real tears when her deadpan expression crumbled and she burst into raucous laughter, realizing the joke for all of us.
She loved Alice in Wonderland. We watched the Disney adaptation -- obviously -- and for Parents' Night, decorated our class with it very much in mind. Each of us crafted a flower from construction paper -- mine was enormous, with a stem like a tree trunk, pink petals and a yellow smiley face -- to tack up on the backwall above the green wooden doors of our lockers. That evening, when the classroom was filled with parents milling about and exclaiming at colourful drawings and neatly kept desks (tidied especially for the purpose), Mrs. Hood clapped her hands for attention. She was announcing a contest -- a miniature paper Alice had been hidden amidst the flowers, and all parents were invited in a search for her.
After a buzz, they obliged with a surprising degree of excitement. My mother was among them, and after a few minutes, made a loud, public discovery, waving Alice in her hand. She was supposed to do it very quietly, and as Mrs. Hood bustled over to her, I was highly embarrassed. Everyone -- including my mother -- laughed when she asked what prize she had earned and Mrs. Hood slyly told her that the reward was the achievement itself.
But most memorable was her last day with our school. She had received a beautiful ceramic teapot from the teaching staff, ornamented with Alice characters and absolutely enormous -- it had three handles, atop one another. For her class, she threw a festive party, with all sorts of lovely goodies, including ice cream, for it was a hot day in June. As I came up in line, she, with scoop in hand, asked me, "You want ice cream, don't you, Gloria?" I was confused by the negative use, but reasoned to myself that if I answered in like, the two would cancel each other out and I would then receive vanilla delectability. I said confidently, "No" and she said, "Oh" and moved onto the next student.
I was floored. Then ... I burst into tears. Mrs. Hood -- bless her -- thought I was overcome with distress at her departure. I sobbed hysterically; she clasped me in a tight hug, touched by my emotional outburst. I wiped my nose and despite how desperately I wanted ice cream, had the tactful mind not to correct her. As my cheek was pressed onto her shoulder, I remember Anthony, one half of twins I had a crush on, giving me a look of disbelief.
To be six, and among Mrs. Hood's bright-eyed pupils of Room Nine, again.
posted at 2:41:26 am
2. As "Americana" defines itself as artefacts of American culture, "Gloriana" consists of the artefacts of my culture.
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