Irwin Elementary School had a program called Parents as Reading Partners (PARP). PARP’s stated mission was to get parents to read with their children. While my sister and I had read with our parents when we were first learning to read, that reading was assisted. PARP allowed our parents to listen as we read to them, and sometimes they’d read to us (just like the OLD days!). Of the books we read together, two stick out in my mind: Roald Dahl’s The BFG and Robert C. O’Brien’s Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.
BFG stands for Big Friendly Giant. The story was about a girl who befriends such a giant. The giant eats snozzcumbers and drinks frobscottle, a carbonated beverage in which the fizz is found at the bottom of the glass. Instead of burping, this causes the drinker to produce a sound known as a whizpopper. PARP allowed us to bond over these hilarious terms that entered the family lexicon although a certain member of our family refers to the sound as a “quizpopper”.
Mrs. Frisby is a mouse with precocious children, one of whom develops pneumonia. While obtaining medicine for her ailing child, Mrs. Frisby enters a rat universe filled with elevators and other modern amenities. These rats, along with Mrs. Frisby’s husband, were experimented on by the National Institutes of Mental Health and developed human-like intelligence. A wonderful result of the book was that my sister and I invented a character named Mo Mousenheimmer, a millionaire mouse who built mouse mansions in the walls of houses. Most of our Mo Mousenheimmer games involved us drawing Mo’s newest mansions.
While it will never be found on PARP’s mission statement, I owe it a debt of gratitude for quizpoppers and Mo Mousenheimmer.