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Monday, April 26, 2010

Muddy As A Duck Puddle, by Laurie Lawlor and illustrated by Ethan Long. Holiday House, T Allen. 2010. $21.50 ages 8 and up

"What is a simile?
This figure of speech compares two different things,
actions, descriptions or feelings. Most similes are
introduced by as or like. A simile
can create a fresh, surprising description. A simile
can even make us laugh when it sets up the opposite
of an expected meaning."

What an absolutely inventive way to present the alphabet...again! I never tire of the amazing thinking that produces books that are such fun for our children. The first is 'Alike as two peas. Now, that makes sense and is quite a common comparison. And so it goes! I hope that no one was walking past my house tonight (the windows and front door were allowing the fresh April air in) as I laughed out loud at some of the inane and charming similes that grace the pages of this, my newest, alphabet book. You've likely heard 'Jittery as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs'; but what about 'Lazy as a hound that leans against the fence to bark'?

My friend Judi will totally understand the last one: 'Zany as a chigger chased around a stump.' Oh, those chiggers!

As I read through it again, and then again, I was thinking how much fun kids would have using this book as a guide to trying their hand at writing their own similes. They could start with sensible, move on to nonsense and even try for an alphabetic grouping. They could choose a theme, or try to write a story that explains a familiar or a newly minted simile came to be...the imagination runs wild. Of course, you could even use the pattern that Laurie Lawlor has established in creating your own alphabet book of similes. The ideas never end!

Once you have read the similes, go back and really examine the wonderful illustrations created to help readers understand the meaning in the words. There are many stories there. Ethan Long's art is colorful and humorous, adding to the total effect with panache. Enjoy, and then try some similes for yourself!

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