Just last night my seven year-old daughter asked if we could read a book together. From stacks of dozens of picture books on our dining room table, Mackenzie selected this one to read (I think the striking school-bus-yellow cover had much to do with that).
As we began to turn pages, she decided that some were mine to read while others were hers. The page featuring the word Despondent was hers. Dad the teacher, never one to miss ruining the moment, stopped her to ask, "What does despondent mean?"
Mackenzie dutifully replied, "It means very unhappy," and explained why, using the pictures and context sentences to prove her hypothesis. (By the way, there is no difference between hypothesis and absolute-certain-truth in the mind of a seven year-old).
As we continued through the book, often stopping to discuss Maira Kalman's surreal illustrations, we came across the word Panache. Learning its meaning (from the book, mind you, not from Dad), my daughter called to my wife, "Hey, Mom! You have panache!"
Enter Mom. Good thing, too, because we needed some help with Word Number 13: Mezzo-Soprano. My wife offered, "I think that's a soprano that sings really high. Casey would know."
Enter the thirteen year-old, the musical theatre aficionado. Thirteen year-olds know everything, so it was extremely fortuitous that she was available to confirm my wife's conjecture. And with the whole family now gathered, we finished the book.
The book in one word? Crazy (Mackenzie). In two? Pretty Neat (Mom). In three? Kind of Weird (Casey). In four? Completely unique, absolutely original (me).
And that's that. As promised, I won't discuss the book's potential for creative story prompts, vocabulary development, or writing models. I could, and should, but I won't.
Sometimes books can just be fun!