Archive | February 6, 2015

13 Words

13 Words

13 Words











13 Words

Lemony Snicket

Maira Kalman

HarperCollins, 2014

pbk., 40pp., RRP $A14.99




Word Number 1: bird                    The bird sits on the table

Word Number 2: despondent         The bird is despondent.  In fact, she is so sad that she hops off the table to look for something to cheer her up.

And so begins this new story from Lemony Snicket (A Series of Unfortunate Events) that continues his penchant for quirky but thoroughly engaging stories.  Bird hops off the table to explore the cake (Word Number 3) that is in the box under it and is joined by dog (word Number 4).  Together they eat the cake and then while Bird gets busy (Word Number 5) Dog goes off in his convertible (#6) and meet Goat (#7) and together they look for things that might cheer Bird up.  They decide on a hat (#8) and so continues a wonderful tale that compels the reader to make connections between words like “haberdashery”, ‘panache’ and ‘mezzo-soprano’.

Giving life to the words are the amazing illustrations of Maira Kalman which have been described in the Kirkus review as “gorgeous, Matisse-like, gelato-colored”.  They force the reader to engage with them drawing you in to discover a range of unexpected delights that are just as original as Snicket’s storyline.  It’s as though SNicket and Kalman have decided to take the iconic format of a children’s basic word book and turn it upside-down.  Not only have they used words that kids know but they’ve also chosen some of those that they love to learn.  What kindergarten word list contains “panache” and “despondent”?  Add to that, instead of the words being isolated and disconnected, they’ve turned them into a story that puts them in a context that demonstrates their meaning and makes a most appealing story. 

This book works on so many levels apart from just being plain fun.  Students could make a list of the most delicious words that roll of their tongues; they could make their own list of thirteen words and try to weave them into a story; they could make a chart of all the different types of hats and classify them as sunsmart or not; and given that Bird is still despondent at the end of the story they could speculate on what might make her happier.  It’s a book that keeps on giving and has something for each age group you share it with.

Check out this book trailer for a sneak peek!