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Reading Around, May 22nd

Lit Talk with an 8-Year-Old Boy

The scene: the dining room table, where books are piled at one end. The most visible is a paperback of "The Waste Land and Other Poems," by T.S. Eliot. The edition features a photograph of Eliot on the cover.

Dramatis personae: Junior and me

Junior: You know, if you spell that guy's name backwards, it's almost "toilet."

Me: Hmm.

Junior: Yeah. [Pause.] Who is that guy?

Me: T.S. Eliot. He was a famous poet.

Junior: Is he dead?

Me: Yes.

Junior [suspiciously]: Where's he buried?

Me: In England, I think. But he was American.

Junior: I don't see why they'd ever put the name "toilet" on a book.

Me: Most people don't read it backwards.

Junior: Oh. Yeah.


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LOL!!! Oh, Susan, were you able to keep a straight face during this conversation? I love the way the minds of young children work. I think that's why I enjoyed teaching in an elementary school for so many years.

I am a total "backwards words" reader and never spotter toilets/ts eliot before.

Has Junior read the Diamond in the Window? That includes a boy whose favorite name is Trebor Nosnibor because its Robert Robinson spelt backwards.

Elaine, yes, I was able to keep a straight face, but I don't know how. There have been some doozies lately in the conversation department, and I've wanted to bust out laughing frequently. That's part of the reason I enjoy reading with the first-grade kids so much, too; what they say when we're just chatting takes such unexpected turns.

Liz, I never once thought TOILETS when I saw TS ELIOT either. But forever more I will. I'll have to find Diamond in the Window; sounds like Jr.'s kind of book!

Too funny. I think you have a budding literary critic on your hands, Susan.

Oh, and the Diamond in the Window, and sequels, are wonderful. They were among my favorites as a kid.

Oh, good, Jen. I will look for those books.

Jr. and I are having some wacky conversations lately. Maybe it's the effect of the end of the school year...I'm not sure!

Does Junior play Scrabble? Sounds like he'd be quite a champion if he did.

Years of playing Scrabble and general Word Nerdery mean I spot things like that on a regular basis, resulting in occasional random bursts of laughter...

Word nerdery--I like that, Michele. I'll have to remember the phrase! Jr. has not yet played official Scrabble, though he used to like to spell words with the tiles.

Too funny, Susan :)

Thanks, Susan, for reminding me on this rainy chilly spring day why kids are SO AWESOME.

Kelly and Laura, thanks for stopping by. These days I better keep a pen and paper at the ready for more gems from Jr.

And, excuse me, but where is the late spring? It's so dang chilly here in the Northeast, isn't it, Laura?

That is brilliantly funny!

Thanks on Jr.'s behalf, Kelly!

Absolutely brilliant!
A reminder of how difficult it is to capture a real kids' voice for a book. Junior is way cool...

Thanks, Sam! He keeps us entertained.

He is SO eight. He is SO boy.

Ha. You're so right.

Conversations like these are reasons for keeping the TV off as much as possible. (Not that we always succeed in that area.) I wouldn't have heard any of this if he'd been watching the telly.

How have I never noticed this before? I'm going to laugh every time I see T.S. Eliot's name. Brilliant!

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