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Sunday, February 07, 2010

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle grid

A stranger's unconscious habits become intolerable in a confined space. I think I may be a loud tea sipper, or I may sip tea at a completely reasonable volume. But inside the library stacks--where it's first of all forbidden for me to be sipping tea in the first place because it is a Safe Space for books--my tea-sipping must sound atrocious and gauche to my studious neighbors. Yesterday I thought of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Whisper Sticks, which temporarily make a whisperer hear all sounds at that inaudible, annoying volume. That fantasy led me to the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle Wikipedia page, which has a totally amazing grid of her cures, organized by book, chapter title, main character, bad behavior, cure employed, and other children introduced. I put down my tea to pore over the grid and recall my favorite Betsy MacDonald stories. The "other children" column is an adorably precise set of extra information. She had the best names for children: Calliope Ragbag, Paraphernalia Grotto, Pergola Wingsproggle, Jasper and Myrtle Quitrick, Melody and Harvard Foxglove, Cormorant Broomrack, Trent and Tansy Popsickle, Sylvia and Janey Quadrangle, Prunella and Quinton Peasley, Nicholas Semicolon.

I read all the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books in the house where I learned to read, so I have an imaginary neighborhood for these characters based on the Rosedale district in Austin, Texas. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's upside-down house was next door to mine; Evelyn Rover, of Whisper Sticks fame, lived in my house. In this imaginary neighborhood (also home to Betsy, Tacy, and Tib--Betsy lived in my house while Tacy lived diagonal and Tib lived at the end of the street), all the houses had two storeys because they seemed terribly exotic, only to be replaced a few years later in my aspirational neighborhood by Anastasia Krupnik's turret.

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Anonymous Alice's mom on Mon Feb 15, 06:01:00 PM:
I'm pleased, of course, that a childhood home where we didn't, after all, live for very long nevertheless lives for you as an imaginary neighborhood. You learned to read chapter books in that house, especially during the week we were all home with chickenpox, a week that is a precious memory for me.

Perhaps you recall that I grew up in Rosedale, too, only a few blocks away. My imaginary childhood sphere, however, resides with the 25 or so different plants that I can remember from that Rosedale yard.

But I'm curious. What room did Evelyn Rover live in?