story, science, technology and creativity

Favourite use of a word in a children’s picture book

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I love fabulous picture books: ones that challenge readers, inspire them to feel new things, make them laugh, and make their parents laugh too.

There are some fabulous picture books on my shelf: check out Diary of a Wombat (by Jackie French) and Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge (by Mem Fox) for two Australian classics. The first is simple and laugh-out-loud funny; the second is poignant and beautiful and always makes me smile. Yay. I tingle just thinking about them.

So what’s your favourite use of a word in a children’s picture book?

MotherwasapirateMine is “philosopher”, from The Man Whose Mother Was A Pirate, by Kiwi writer Margaret Mahy. Mahy studied philosophy at university before becoming a librarian and author.

As a kid I remember LOVING this tiny little man in his brown accountant’s suit, and being swept away with his adventures as he abandoned his office life to journey to the wild sea with his pirate mother. Wonderful! (And very similar to what we are doing with Fergus right now!)

Our teacher read The Man Whose Mother Was A Pirate to our class: the highlight for me was meeting the philosopher: he sat, watching the world go by, under a tree. I loved being able to say such a large word. I loved knowing what it meant. And when we had to make papier mache puppets of a character in the book, I chose the philosopher (probably so I could say the word, over and over again). This book is tattooed in my brain: it sparked so many different feelings and emotions.

If you ever get your hands on a copy, be careful: you might follow the little man’s example (like we did!) and toss away your office job to head for the ocean. Whee!

So what about you?? What’s your favourite use of a word in a children’s picture book? Is it something that sticks in your head from childhood? Or something that’s grabbed you from more recent shelves…?

Author: cristyburne


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