Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Little, Brown & Co. All opinions and experiences are my own.
Sometimes when I’m reading a book, an illustration or situation jogs a memory. It can be the smallest thing like a line a character says or something that occurs in the storyline. That happened to me while I was perusing the new James Patterson book, Penguins of America. Don’t worry – it was a memory that made me smile and laugh at myself. Those are the best kinds!
Penguins of America is written by the popular author, James Patterson and his son, Jack. It’s a bit different than his other suspenseful books I’ve read as it’s illustrated and pretty darn funny. It was inspired by his son’s love for penguins and showcases penguins in hilarious situations that many of us have experienced in our day-to-day lives. Seeing penguins walk in our shoes makes it easy to laugh at ourselves and some of the encounters we find ourselves in daily.
For me, it reminded me at how hilariously terrible I am at sports. A few of the illustrations reminded me of that fact like the one with the penguin catching a baseball and snowboarding. I’m good at a lot of things, but sports isn’t one of them. In fact, I’m downright awful and it’s no wonder why I was always last chosen in those school yard picks for teams in gym classes.
Some people are afraid of clowns and spiders. Me? I’m afraid of balls. Flying balls are the worst. My parents put my sister and I in a local softball league as kids. I wanted to make my parents proud like they were of my sister and her many home-runs. The coach saw how I just couldn’t catch on to the skills being taught. I’d close my eyes when I was supposed to swing the bat. Hearing, “Yer out” became a common occurrence. If I ever hit the ball, it was through sheer luck.
Playing outfield was my regular position. I know I must have made my coach and team mates frustrated because I’d run the other way if someone hit the ball out my way. Normally, you are supposed to run towards the ball and try and catch it. My role was to get that ball back to my team so they could get the other team’s player out. I never followed the rules and I’d try and casually move away from the ball if it was hit out to me. I thought I was being stealth about it back then, but now realize how crazy I must have looked to everyone.
I was looking for a photo of myself playing baseball as a child, but couldn’t find one. I guess my parents wanted to forget that it ever happened! This is a photo of me as a child around the same time that I was playing baseball.
The funny thing is that nothing has changed 30 years later. I’m still afraid of balls! I was playing catch out in the yard with my daughter and I still had the urge to high tail it out of there when I saw the ball coming at me. Old habits die hard I guess!
I did have one shining moment so my entire baseball career was not all laughable. I was placed on second base because I think the coach felt bad for me because I was always in the outfield. I saw a “pop fly” coming towards me and instead of instinctively curling into a ball to hide from it, I opened my glove up and caught it. I remember that feeling of euphoria come over me and thinking, “Did that really just happen?”. It was my shining moment. I’ll never forget how shocked and happy I was. Maybe my baseball days had some hope?
Turns out, it was a fluke. The next time a ball came at me, I’d run the other way!
Another illustration from Penguins of America reminded me of first time downhill skiing. The penguins are snowboarding (close enough!) and I remembered my grade six field trip to Calabogie Peaks. The newbies in our class had lessons and I thought I was getting the hanging of snowplowing down the little hill.
After the lesson, we were able to go off on our own and try out the other hills. I thought I was ready for the bunny hill. Bunny hills are supposed to be small, right? This one seemed like Mount Everest, but I figured I was ready with my new skiing skills.
The trouble started on the way up the hill. I fell off the T-bar lift. Don’t worry, I wasn’t hurt.
When I finally made it to the top, I forgot everything I learned about going down the hill slowly and carefully. I zoomed straight down like I was in a race to get to the bottom. I had no control over my body. I zipped down that hill in record time and couldn’t stop myself. I crashed into a group of people at the bottom. Let’s just say I’ve never skied again! I’m obviously incapable of learning how!
It’s easy now to laugh at myself. I was and am pretty horrible at sports. No matter how hard I try, I’m just too uncoordinated. I loved that Penguins of America made me be able to laugh at myself as I was reminded of these funny times in my life.
Penguins of America is now in stores (as of May 1st) and is worth picking up a copy. Who knows? Maybe the illustrations will remind you of a humourous time in your life, too?