메이슨빌 도서관에서 둘째아이에게 읽어줄만한 책을 찾아 몇권 빌려왔는데 그 중 하나가 “The Mitten” 이라는 그림동화책이다. 일단 제목만 보면 내용이 쉬워 보이지만 이 30 쪽짜리 짧은 동화 책을 만5살짜리 딸내미에게 읽어주다보니 여기에 사용되는 표현과 단어들이 그리 만만치 않다. 내가 사전을 찾아야 하는 단어도 여기저기 눈에 띈다. 이 그림책의 대상이 과연 몇살인지 검색해보니 어떤 교육 사이트에서는 2살에서 5살이라고 나와서 거의 악 소리가 날 뻔 했다. 그나마 다른 사이트에서는 고맙게도 4세에서 8세 사이에 적합하다고 나와있고 결정적으로 Barns and Noble 에서는 초등학교 취학전의 유치원생에게 권할만한 책이라고 한다. 여러 독자 혹은 학부모들의 서평에서는 다들 아주 좋은 책이라고만 나와 있을 뿐, 단어나 표현이 어렵다는 평가는 보이질 않는다.
여기서 중요한 것은 내가 암만 TOEFL 과 TOEIC 과 IELTS 시험에서 비교적 괜찮은 점수를 받는다고 해도 Native 아이들이 이해하는 단어들도 모르는 경우가 많다는 사실이다. 이제껏 Survival English 와 Business English 환경에선 별다른 애로사항이 없었지만, 동네 맥도날드에 가서 햄버거를 우물거리며 옆 테이블의 아줌마들이 떠드는 대화를 들어보자면 사실 그 수다 영어는 제대로 따라가지 못할 때가 많다. 그리고 대학교때 보던 원서 전공서적은 좀 어려워도 대략 이해하면서 난이도에 있어선 그냥 그런가보다 싶을 정도라고 느껴왔지만 정작 Native 아이들 그림책도 완벽히 소화를 못 하고 있는 형편이다. 한국에서의 영어교육이랄까, 학습이라고 하는 것이 뭔가 좀 기본을 건너뛰어서 가르치고 있어서일까. 어차피 시험을 위한 공부에 불과하다면 그럴 수도 있겠다.
나로서는 보다 생생한 현실 사회에서의 영어를 공부한다고 생각해왔는데 지금은 유치원생에게 읽어주라고 펴낸 책부터 다시 읽어가며 공부해야하지 않을까 싶어지는 상황이다. 그래서 천천히 음미해가며 읽고나서 여기서 타이핑을 해봤다. 내일 다시 읽어보면서 문장과 단어를 되새김해봐야겠다.
Adapted and Illustrated by Jan Brett
Once there was a boy named Nicki who wanted his new mittens made from wool as white as snow.
At first, his grandmother, Baba, did not want to knit white mittens.
“If you drop one in the snow,” she warned, “you’ll never find it.”
But Nicki wanted snow-white mittens, and finally Baba made them.
After she finished she said, “When you come home, first I will look to see if you are safe and sound, but then I will look to see if you still have your snow-white mittens.”
So off Nicki went. And it wasn’t long until one of his new mittens dropped in the snow and was left behind.
A mole, tired from tunneling along, discovered the mitten and burrowed inside. It was cozy and warm and just the right size, so he decided to stay.
A snowshoe rabbit came hopping by. He stopped for a moment to admire his winter coat. It was then that he saw the mitten, and he wiggled in, feet first. The mole didn’t think there was room for both of them, but when he saw the rabbit’s big kickers he moved over.
Next a hedgehog came snuffling along. Having spent the day looking under wet leaves for things to eat, he decided to move into the mitten and warm himself. The mole and the rabbit were bumped and jostled, but not being ones to argue with someone covered with prickles, they made room.
As soon as the hedgehog disappeared into the mittens, a big owl, attracted by commotion, swooped down. When he decided to move in also, the mole, the rabbit, and the hedgehog grumbled. But when they saw owl’s glinty talons, they quickly let him in.
Up through the snow appeared a badger. He eyed the mitten and began to climb in. The mole, the rabbit, the hedgehog, and the owl were not pleased. There was no room left, but when they saw his diggers, they gave him the thumb.
It started snowing, but the animals were snug in the mitten. A waft of warm steam rose in the air, and a fox trotting by stopped to investigate. Just the sight of the cozy mitten made him drowsy. The fox poked his muzzle in. When the mole, the rabbit, the hedgehog, the owl, and the badger saw his shiny teeth, they gave the fox lots of room.
A great bear lumbered by. He spied the mitten all plumped up. Not being one to be left out in the cold, he began to nose his way in. The animals were packed in as tightly as could be. But what animal would argue with a bear?
The mitten swelled and stretched. It was pulled and bulged to many times its size. But Baba’s good knitting held fast.
Along came a meadow mouse, no bigger than an acorn. She wriggled into the one space left, and made herself comfortable on top of the great bear’s nose.
The bear, tickled by the mouse’s whiskers, gave an enormous sneeze.
The force of the sneeze shot the mitten up into the sky, and scattered the animals in all directions.
On his way home, Nicki saw a white shape in the distance. It was the lost mitten silhouetted against the blue sky.
As he ran to catch his snow-white mitten, he saw Baba’s face in the window. First she look to see if he was safe and sound, and then she saw that he stil had his new mittens.