Wednesday, June 15, 2016

{bookcase: max's words}

There are, admittedly, two very personal reasons why I picked this book on this day I decide to finally settle down and revisit this space (I've missed it!): this was the book my parents gave and inscribed to Maya on her first birthday, and my son Finnegan, all of three years old, has an incredible imaginary friend named Max, who is a friendly T-rex who often comes with us on trips to the park and sleeps in Finn's bed and is also afraid of thunderstorms.

The Max of Max's Words by Kate Banks, probably isn't so scared of thunderstorms though. Maybe. He's a clever little guy whose older brothers have collections of their own. (You can see I have a thing for collections. Particularly a well-curated one of either literary or natural objects.) One collects stamps, the other coins. So Max sets out to collect something of his own.

This, I love: he collects words. He gathers them up in piles, collects them out of size and love and strangeness. Writes new ones on slips of paper. And then he makes stories out of them and his brothers suddenly notice something kind of magical happening. They gain agency in this moveable, alive collection.

In my former life as a high school English teacher, I used to have my students collect words too--they had slips of paper to add words they loved or hated or overheard and wanted to work into a poem. I'd collect them too, on post-its, and they'd ring my computer monitor, line my desk, my gradebook. I cut out a huge piece of butcher paper and hung it from the wall and hoped my kids would be good--I did get observed once in a while after all--and they put the words they loved the most up there, or abhorred, and I loved seeing it every day.

I see that Max has other adventures, so I think I might have to go library expansion shopping... My son is tricky to find books for because he tends to groove, which means we have a stack of Pete the Cat and a stack of Bumblebee Boy (slash Ladybug Girl) books, but I get it. I'm a binge-reader too. You find something you love, and you just get hungry.

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