It would appear that foreigners can sometimes get things right.
I know that as one of them I can never lay claim to the kind of past many of my readers have with Ladybird books. You sort of imbibed them with the first milk, and a person can only have one past. At least most of us. Lucy Mangan has been spot on again, writing about her Ladybird collection, and being generous enough to concede that her otherwise hopeless husband also has an excellent Ladybird past. Wow.
On my first visit to these shores I bought one book. Aged ten, and with one year of school English behind me, I wasn’t well placed to read much at all. But Mother-of-witch let me buy one book, which we then laboured over together. There were many tempting ones in the shop, but I settled on something solid about two children on a farm. It personified my early image of English children, with their sweet sensible shoes, boys in shorts, with mothers who bake cakes and fatherly fathers.
So I tried to learn English with Ladybird, although by the time I really could read the book, it was far too childish for me and I had moved on to Agatha Christie.