(A post for iremember.sg)
It’s not the coolest thing to be labelled a bookworm.
But there was a time, not long ago, when being a member of “The Bookworm Club” felt like the greatest thing that could happen in my life.
(I wasn’t sure why actually – I remember getting this flimsy card from the suspicious looking Bookworm aunty to whom I had just given a chunk of my pocket money to. The card had “The Bookworm Club” printed of it, along with, guess what – a worm printed on it, which told me I was a member of the club. Nothing much more happened…but I still tucked it away in my velcro wallet feeling awesome anyway.)
I daresay that the magic of Bookworm’s simple yet heart-warming stories has enchanted many from my generation. Book fairs were held regularly in my school, but none were as big a deal as a Bookworm one. I remember whenever the Bookworm people came down to my school, the Bookworm aunty would always very kindly read us a story from the latest Bookworm book during assembly, and every kid gathered in the hall would listen with bated breath. She would then, just as kindly, leave us with a cliffhanger so that the whole hall would burn brightly with a raging desire for the new book. I suspect the tuckshop vendors groan every time a Bookworm book fair arrives, because schoolchildren would scrape every single penny they have (even if it means going on an empty stomach) just to get their pudgy hands on that one more Bookworm book.
There may be no wishing chairs or talking elves like in Enid Blyton, nor butt-kicking action like in Hardy Boys, but perhaps the very appeal of Bookworm stories comes from the fact that the members of the Bookworm Gang are ordinary schoolchildren like us. Smarty the clever (and at times smug) leader, Mimi the vain girl, Simone the tomboy, Sam Seng the prankster and Porky the hungry boy – we can relate to them quite well because we probably know a friend or two who resemble them. Most of them had such vivid personalities that I remember quite a bit of them even till today, even a few stories in particular.
The sole complaint I have about Bookworm books is that they were so pricey yet thin, so I seem to finish each book too quickly for my money’s worth. But apparently I wasn’t the only one who thought so, because other kids were more than willing to lend me their Bookworm books, in exchange for mine. And that was how I managed to read most of the books in the series despite having so little books myself. I remember promising to myself that I would try to collect every single volume when I started working next time, but unfortunately they seem to be out of print now (and out of fashion). Not to mention that I’ve moved on to reading other more chim books. But Bookworm books were definitely a significant part of my childhood memories, and has by no small part inspired my love for reading.