Okay, friends. Gather around, because I have a story to tell.
When I was a little girl, my mother used to take me to all kinds of book fairs and craft shows and “white elephant” sales. It seemed there was always a vendor, tucked away in a corner, who was selling personalized books. The books that take your child’s name, and other details, such as the names of siblings, friends, or pets, the name of the town where you live, and other information, and plugs them into a pre-written story. There were all sorts of titles to choose from, and different subjects, some meant to appeal to girls, some to boys, and others with universal appeal.
Over the years, I accumulated several of these books including “Me, Snow White, and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Read About Me and the Bee,” and “The Great Sesame Street ABC Hunt.” But there is one book that will always be more special and memorable than all the rest, for a very odd reason. This book is called “Read About Me in the Mousehouse.”
One detail you must know about the mouse-house book is that the name of the mouse changes depending upon who the intended recipient is. The mouse’s name is the child’s name—spelled backwards. In hindsight I bet this convention caused some trouble for the parents who bought the book. I would imagine that many, if not most names spelled backwards are hard to pronounce. But that’s not the only problem.
You see, my name is Lana. At least, it was back then. When I was born, my name was Lana, but everyone pronounced it wrong. All the time. Teachers. My grandparents’ friends. The man at K-mart asking over the P.A. system if my parent could please come to the front of the store because I was lost. My mom got annoyed, then she got sick of it, and the spelling was changed to Lonna. But back when this book was created “especially for” me, my name was Lana. L-A-N-A.
Do you know what ‘Lana’ is spelled backwards?
I have a book in my possession where the mouse is named Anal. Anal Mouse.
To my mother’s credit, whenever she read the book to me, she pronounced Anal as “AHH-null.” Not that I had heard the word ‘anal’ or had any idea what it meant when I was a toddler. I wasn’t sure, why though, it was always so hard for my mother to keep a straight face when she read the book to me. After all, it was an enjoyable book, but it wasn’t funny.
Here is something that’s funny though. Anal Mouse was most decidedly not anal. Her mouse-house is a mess, “as jumbled as” her name. Empty bottles and jars and boxes, torn mittens and holey socks, clothespins, used postage stamps, rubber bands, match boxes, and buttons imprinted with logos and sayings and pictures are just some of the junk that clutter Anal’s mousehouse. By the end of the story, Lana (that’s me!) had helped Anal to create a more livable space by upcycling and reusing all the trash to make furniture, décor, and storage solutions for the decidedly un-anal Anal. I was truly ahead of my time.
If you aren’t crying with laughter at the thought of a children’s book that inadvertently named one of its two main characters Anal then I can’t help you. But here’s one more delightful snippet from the book that might cause you to crack (no pun intended) a smile.
Lana is exploring around her house when she stumbles across the mousehouse, quite by accident, in the back of a closet. The mousehouse, is, of course, a “tiny hole” in the wall.
A tiny hole.
A tiny hole with a sign hanging over it.
What does the sign say?
But(t) of course.