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Big Words for Little People
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Big Words for Little People is the eighth book in the Books to Grow By series created by the team of Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell. All eight deal playfully and respectfully with some aspect of kid behavior. This one considers mostly behavioral kinds of words that kids hear every day but may not understand.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
This creative, energetic group of kids, with their big orange tabby, wiry little dog, and rather patient pet goose, cavort through the pages, demonstrating just how fun, and empowering, it can be to use big words. Verging on the brink of pandemonium, scenes from their life burst with activity as each new word is presented in several lines of rhyming explanation. The final words in the book are not so big in size, but rather in importance -- family, respect, and love -- and they sum up the whole underlying tone of the book.
Is it any good?
Laura Cornell's illustrations are outstanding, extraordinary, stupendous, and superb! Her amazingly detailed watercolor over pen and ink artwork is fascinating, and brings life to every single page. To say she has created a uniquely expressive family is an understatement. Just take a look at the dinner table scene: dressed in crowns and capes and outfits obviously of their own choosing, each kid is doing something other than sitting and quietly eating supper. Milk has been spilt, words are being spelled out in peas, balloons bounce around here and there. Yet the parents are smiling, and the dad even sports a button saying "Proud Father of BRILLIANCE!!!" This is a "celebration."
While the artwork masterfully sets a tone of acceptance and respect for the individual, the text, which is more an exploration than a story, shows how certain "big words" make expressing yourself more fun. Some of the examples are better than others. The pages about "persistence" and "patience" are much more positive than those that show the pink-faced little sister enduring the embarrassing "consequence" of being left in at recess for expoding her bubble gum in class. The attempt to rhyme the lines is uneven, and detracts at times from what is otherwise a very empowering and enjoyable book.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about each "big word," from "stupendous" to "disgusting," what it means, when their kids may have heard it, and when anyone might want to use it. They definitely will want to enjoy, and talk about, the illustrations that go along with each new word. What are the kids doing that explains the word to you? Can you think of other things they might do to show the word in another way? Can you think of times in your life when you wanted "privacy," when things were "impossible," or you had to suffer a "consequence"? What things are "appropriate" for you? How about "inappropriate"? Why?