A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that, when it comes to content, they can rest easy reading this lighthearted book to their kids. The visual interpretations are comic enough to keep 4- to 8-year-olds entertained and also offer a lively commentary on the capricious side of the English language.
What's the story?
Is it any good?
This is one of the more successful of author Fred Gwynne's books on homonyms and idioms because the selections are not so obvious. Shoe tree, for example, is a silly concoction, and so is the expression on the lam, which deserves to be pictured as a gent riding on the back of a baby sheep. But while the former is self-evident, the latter will have you scurrying to the dictionary to check up on word origins.
The only stumbler? "Mom says her favorite painter is Dolly." Depending on which part of the country you're from, that one may take some time to decipher. Then try explaining surrealism to a 4-year-old. "But why does the clock melt?" one wanted to know. Your serve.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the meaning and origins of silly-sounding words and phrases like "chocolate mousse" (which, of course, sounds just like "chocolate moose") and "guerrilla war" (which sounds like "gorilla war"). Parents can also explain that these words and phrases are called homonyms and idioms, and can talk about the differences between the two concepts. Are there any homonyms you can think of that aren't mentioned in the book? What about idioms?