I wish I could remember everything important, like the titles of all the books I intend to read this summer. I can recall stories galore of yesteryear, with crystal clear pictures in my head. The present often seems cloudy in comparison. Children remember everything. The tiniest detail is there beside them, for the longest time. Isabelle is a case in point.
My library read-aloud group started the year reading Diva and Flea, by Mo Willems back in September.
It is the story of a dog and a cat, living in Paris. Of course it is so much more, as Mo Willems weaves stories of growing, bravery, and fear throughout the book. He also paints a verbal picture of life on both sides of the tracks. Does having all the conveniences and necessities dictate a better life? Better hold on and read the book!
Since the backdrop for the book is Paris, French words are among the text. Diva is a gardienne’s dog, and Flea is a flâneur. I often stopped my reading to talk about the words. That was fun!
Flea did have a fixed occupation, however. He was a flâneur. A flâneur is someone (or some cat) who wanders the streets and bridges and alleys of the city just to see what there is to see. A great flâneur has seen everything… Flea was a great flâneur.
The children loved the book. Adults enjoy the subtle humor of Mo Willems. Win-win all around. We continued the year reading The Wild Robot, by Peter Brown (a favorite) and The Story of Doctor Dolittle, by Hugh Lofting. By the time June rolled around, reading Diva and Flea seemed like years ago.
On the last day of our library read-aloud last week, this is what Isabelle’s Mother showed me (it is in two parts):
The school assignment was to write the answer to a question for each day of the week. Monday’s question was, “If you could be a cat for one day, would you like it? What would you do all day?” Isabelle answered:
“I would like to be a cat for one day. I would flâneur all around.”
Wow! Flâneur all around. Imagine that; written nine months after reading Diva and Flea.
In the words of Mo Willems, “The biggest discoveries start with the smallest steps.” I give children many, many small steps- especially through reading aloud. They discover the world in avenues that often surprise me. It is wonderful.