Sunday, October 21, 2012

Degrees of Separation

Chances are you know the song DEM BONES , or at least have heard of it and can even sing some of it in your head: "the leg bone's connected to the knee bone, the knee bone's connected to the thigh bone..."  There are times when I am astonished by the connectedness of things, and not just bones!  For example:

Earlier this month we read the fun story Miss Brooks Loves Books! (and I don't) by Barbara Bottner, and illustrated by Michael Emberley; a delightful tale about a girl who doesn't like reading ("it's too pink, too kissy, too ...) despite her teacher's enthusiastic encouragement.  When her mother claims she is as stubborn as a wart, she finally discovers a book that speaks to her: none other than Shrek, written by William Steig (1907-2003) in 1990, well before the first movie was produced.  Naturally, we had to read Shrek next, as many of the children were familiar with the movie only. 

The children were on the look-out for similarities and differences between the book and the movie.  Princess Fiona is drastically different, by the way!

      The next week with the second graders we read Wumbers, wri10 (written) by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustr8ted (illustrated) by Tom Lichtenfeld, a fabulously clever book about playing with words (and numbers).    

 At first the children were puzzled, but as they recognized what the "words" were, they were eager for more on the following pages.  Such fun this book is.  It's 1derful!  The children thought it was gr8!

     Now here is where it gets weird; on the back pages the author and illustrator team dedicate this book to William Steig, whom we had encountered last week, because of his love for word games.  What a remarkable coincidence that William Steig should show up in two books.  And yet it's not all that surprising.  Steig wrote many books for children, including Pete's a Pizza, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, Doctor De Soto, and The Amazing Bone, as well as two books of word puzzles, CDB! and CDC?

Published 1984

Published 1968

Some of them are quite complicated.  Here are two of the easiest examples:

"Are you okay?"  "Yes, thank you."  and
"I am a human being. You are an animal."

Sometimes we encounter these clever puzzles on license plates.  That's when I am thankful for traffic lights; it gives me enough time to figure out what the plate means on the car in front of mine.  I imagine that William Steig chuckled whenever he encountered a clever license!  I wonder what his was.

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