Tintin lives on – in Ghana

Tintin in America, The broken earRecently I’ve been buying quite a few Tintin books – mainly I am prepared to admit because I found that Kingdom Books and Stationery, a local store associated more with the latter than the former seems to have got a stock of them which are truly selling at a bargain price! And let’s face it, though I have been rationing my visits, I just can’t resist.

Over the years I’ve had many different editions of Tintin books, and I am not sure where they all are now.  Some fell apart from overuse, others got lent out, others were borrowed and never returned.

I certainly remember reading some in French, and maybe even as they were being issued in serialized form – or is this just a fake memory? It is possible, as I did live in Belgium  when I was young, but I really can’t be sure, and there isn’t anyone I can ask to confirm or deny.

I am fairly certain that we had lots of the Tintin books – in English – which I read, and laughed at, as did my sister, and later my brother, whose main reading for many years, was anything in comic form! We loved Captain Haddock’s swear words – which sounded horrible, but were very funny because of their alliteration – even in a translation.

When I first started working at the Ghana Library Board in the Ashanti Regional Library (Kumasi) in late 1980, I was thrilled to see that there were Tintin books in the children’s section – to which I had been assigned! And amazed at just how popular they were – with the children of all ages, and their parents, who practically begged to be allowed to borrow them. I suppose it is the appeal of the colour, the style, the stories, the fact that the good guys usually win, and the bad ones do get defeated which gave them such a widespread appeal. Even those whose level of English wasn’t so great would sit entranced looking at the pictures, and explaining to others what was going on.

Surprisingly the Tintin series aren’t that well known in the US. Recently I asked a shop assistant in one of the big chains and he hadn’t heard of them; another had but wasn’t aware that Stephen Spielberg’s film, The adventures of Tintin was coming out just before Christmas. But in the way of marketing to US audiences, I am sure that movie tie-in books will soon be hitting the shelves.

In the meantime, I will continue to add to my current collection, and re-read these books which I first enjoyed more than fifty years ago!  And chuckle as I do so.

And of course take a look at one of the Tintin fan websites, and follow a Tintin blogger.

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How can I have ONE favourite book????

Tomorrow I have to talk about my “favourite” book, and I am still mulling over what to say!  What an impossibility was my first reaction; after all I have been reading for rather a lot of years – well actually since I was about four or five, I think!  So what do I say?   I could have said “no” I can’t, but didn’t want to disappoint the person making the request.   So I guess I have to spend much of the time given to me explaining just why I can’t choose just ONE!

I realise that some of the possible choices were the same as I put on Facebook, and I still stand by them.  To me a favourite is a book I can re-read, and I think it would be fair to say that I have re-read both Jane Austen’s Pride and prejudice and Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre at least five or six times throughout my life – almost once in each decade?   I recently picked up a copy of Pride and prejudice, and enjoyed it just as much as I did the previous times, while appreciating some nuances that I had probably missed earlier.

Others on my possible list would be Lewis Carroll’s Alice in wonderland and Through the looking glass. These I am sure I read or had read to me as a child, but when I came upon them as an adult, it was very different, yet still enjoyable on that totally different level, and I am neither a mathematician nor a chess player, so all those allusions still pass me by.

And lastly – but it isn’t really, really, lastly – I would put the Tintin series.  I first read these graphic novels cum comics in French in Belgium, when I must have been around eight or nine, and that was in the 1950s.   I don’t think I fully understood them, but the pictures were fun and carried the stories.  And I remember having the whole collection – with additions for Christmas presents – at some point in my childhood, and they could be read, and re-read, and re-read, and passed on to others – my sister and brother.

And then rediscovered in all places at the Ashanti Regional Library of the Ghana Library Board in 1980/81 when I first joined them, and was in charge of the children’s library.   I took them home, and everyone loved them, even if they couldn’t understand the stories fully – kids, teens, husband, even husband’s friend! And I myself found myself with new enthusiasm entering the world of Snowy, Captain Haddock and the Thompson/Thomson twins as well as Professor Calculus (though I still prefer his French name, Tournesol).

I saw them somewhere recently in Accra, and it was very, very hard to resist!