The Upside-Down Perspective

Recall a childhood memory. What lesson did you learn from the experience?

My glistening mouth is frozen in a wide grimace; my eyes peer down into my little white book. My mother has asked me to read for her and I am determined to do so, despite my younger brother's distracting presence. This is my mother's first photograph of her literate daughter, but it is my brother that steals the show. He wobbles beside me, his face mirroring my intense concentration. I read from my book, aptly titled Little Miss Jealous, and he reads upside-down from his Mr Men edition. My lilting reader's voice clashes with his infant language but, in that snapshot of time, we are united siblings.

I later hid my precious copies of Little Miss and Mr Men under my bed. Roger Hargreaves' literary collection came in a mini-shelf case that made his palm-sized titles ideal to stack 'n' share, but I took my newfound reading abilities very seriously and could not bear to see my little brother make mockery of reading. In addition, the little Miss series was my introduction to the rainbow spectrum of human traits: happy, bossy, clever, greedy. I was fascinated by the stark contrast between virtue and vice long before I understood the concept of propriety and I did not want my little brother to intrude into my cocoon of wisdom. These...

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