Monday, January 11, 2010

Weighty Words

I've been thinking about books lately, which really, is nothing new, but more specifically, I've been thinking about books from my childhood that influenced me. It started as a result from a question by a friend, one that stemmed from a course on children's literature at the college, and it's been on my mind ever since. Today in class a student asked me what the word "paradox" meant and I immediately went to the go-to reference in my mind- one from The Weighty Word Book: "So, whenever something seems impossible at first, but turns out to be true, like a parrot-ox, we call that thing a paradox." Tonight I picked up the book again, thinking about all the words, like ostracize, ubiquitous, and juxtapose, that I learned in third grade, when my teacher read a story, or a word, a day for 26 days, beginning again when we begged for more. It's amazing how things stay with us, how I will always remember the word winsome, not only for it's definition, but because I wanted to be just like Mary Marigold, and all her charming, charismatic, cheerful, brightness, and I loved that there was one word to describe all those things I desired.

I think I'll take a little break from commenting on student papers for a little while and sit with a few of my favorite books, and remember how much a simple description, like the unpacking of a lunch, can stick with us forever.

The next day when the bell rang for lunch, Albert said, "What do you have today?"
"Well," said Frances, laying a paper doily on her desk and setting a tiny vase of violets in the middle of it, "let me see." She arranged her lunch on the doily.
"I have a thermos bottle with cream of tomato soup," she said.
"And a lobster-salad sandwich on thin slices of white bread.
I have celery, carrot sticks, and black olives, and a little cardboard shaker of salt for the celery.
And two plums and a tiny basket of cherries.
And vanilla pudding with chocolate sprinkles and a spoon to eat it with."
"That's a good lunch," said Albert. "I think it's nice that there are all different kinds of lunches and breakfasts and dinners and snacks. I think eating is nice." "So do I," said Frances,
and she made the lobster-salad sandwich, the celery,
the carrot sticks, and the olives come out even.
-R. Hoban, from Bread and Jam for Frances


K A R I™ said...

I feel so cool reading and commenting on your Blog from my phone. Love today's post so much

Chas Hoppe said...

I still remember what a palindrome is thanks to a story I read in 2nd grade called "Hannah is a palindrome." She gets totally ripped on by this kid named Otto, who keeps calling her a palindrome. Then she looks the word up, and calls him one too. It blew my mind.