By Andrew Clements, published 1996
“But who says that d-o-g means the thing that goes ‘woof’ and wags its tail? Who says so?” And Mrs. Granger took the bait. “Who says dog means dog? You do, Nicholas. You and I and everyone in this class and this school and this town and this state and this country. We all agree.”
Perhaps it was because I had just given up on another too-intense fifth-grade children’s book, and needed something to clean my ‘palate.’ Perhaps it is because this is just a terrific story. In any case, I give thumbs up to this fast-moving, easy reading children’s book that is sure to delight parents, teachers, and hopefully kids! If you can imagine the best learning situation you would want your child in, it would be with a teacher such as the one in this children’s book… though we don’t realize it until the very end of the story.
In some ways, this children’s book offers a double message. On the one hand, there’s a great model of a bright student, his supportive family, and the way they navigate his ‘trouble’ at school. His trouble, by the way, consists of inventing a new word for “pen.” On the other hand, the story also brings in a somewhat philosophical point about language and words. What makes up language anyway? So the message that a reader gets from the book may depend on the child’s age. In any case, it is thoroughly enjoyable.
I’m tempted to include the book as a read-aloud for younger readers (2nd or 3rd graders), while anyone older than that can just devour the book in a very short time. It also makes a fabulous classroom book for language arts. Yeah for a good children’s book!