Izzy the Impatient
So I was in the children's section of Borders last night looking for a book I'm mentioning in Grindhopping (the picture book is "Big Sister, Little Sister," by LeUyen Pham, who's a great young illustrator if anyone's looking for kids' picture books). While there, I was reminded of something. It's quite difficult to find good kids' books for very bright young kids. This is particularly true for 6- or 7-year-olds who are reading at an adult level. Most adult books have more adult themes than 6- or 7-year-olds can handle. So what do you do? The Harry Potter books are wonderful in this regard, as are Madeleine L'Engle and others whose work can be enjoyed by young and old alike. But even Harry Potter and Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain can be a little dark at times for six-year-olds who have nightmares. I'm curious what books parents have found to be best for these adult-level readers who aren't quite adults.
The other thought I had while there is that the morality tales you see in children's literature are sometimes too cut and dried. Remembering the "Mr. Man" books from my own childhood, I had a brainstorm. I'd love to see a kids' picture book that stated that impatience is not always a bad thing. Gifted young kids are impatient to learn!
I'm thinking a little girl named Izzy could star in this role. She'd be 3. She'd do things like call out words on signs and spell words when people say them. Someone would say "how many is this?" holding up fingers in the supermarket line, and she'd tell them "nine fingers -- that's three threes." Some astonished people would tell her "Slow down little one!" Maybe even well-meaning people like the mailman, neighbors, etc. She's a little confused by this. What did she do wrong?
The plot thickens. She could also have a garden she works on with her parents in the back yard. She gets impatient waiting for the plants to come up and so digs them out. Her mom or dad will then say that sometimes it's not OK to be impatient. It certainly doesn't help the plants. But with learning, sometimes it is OK. There's a lot to learn in this world, and there's no reason to slow down if you don't want to.
Of course, the third thing I observed in Borders is that half the kids' books are now "written" by celebrities, as it's one of the few ways to be sure a book will stand out in the glut of picture books. So I guess I'd have to get Madonna to illustrate Izzy the Impatient if I was going to have any hopes of it going anywhere. :)