Manny had liked The Book of Everything
so much that he decided he would read it in the original. He ordered a copy.
"But you don't know Dutch," said his friend.
"I don't care," said Manny.
"It'll be like when we went to to Ireland," said his friend. "Or when we went to Turkey. You bought an Irish grammar and a Turkish grammar, and after we came home you never looked at them again."
"We'll see what happens this time," said Manny.
The book arrived. Manny opened it and started reading. It was very difficult. Sometimes there was a word that looked like Swedish, and sometimes there was a word that looked like German, but mostly it looked like Dutch.
"Shouldn't you be using a dictionary?" asked his friend.
"I don't believe in dictionaries," said Manny. He carried on reading. After a while, he noticed that a lot more of the words were like Swedish or German. You had to squint at them in the right way.
"I'm starting to enjoy it," said Manny. "There's often a sentence or two I can understand."
His friend opened the book. "What does that mean then?" she asked, pointing to the words at the top of the page. She was quite surprised when Manny told her.
Now Manny could sometimes understand whole paragraphs. He wondered why it had seemed so hard at first. It was just a strange mixture of Swedish and German spoken with a Dutch accent. He could hear the author's voice, and it was a beautiful voice.
"You seem to be having fun," said his friend.
"I am," said Manny. "This is a very good book. It makes my head hurt a little, but it's worth it."