Sunday, November 11, 2012

Trees of the Dancing Goats

Two nights ago, Pippi picked this one from the shelves. I was tired. Exhausted would be a more correct word. Tired in body, mind, and spirit. I didn't feel capable of handling books with heavy thematic content, so not having read this particular Polacco, I skimmed it briefly. Not finding a death bed or fresh grave, I settled in to read it to Pip.

Before we finished the first page, Pippi could tell this was a new sort of book, opening up a new world, a new people to her for the first time. On the first page is a menorah, and the opening scene is that of a family of Ukrainian descent preparing for the eight days of Hannakuh.

By the second page Pippi had unearthed a handful of new words. Menorah. Hanukkah. Ukraine. Babushka. Festivities. Homeland. The third page gave us a brief lesson on candling. By the fourth page, Pippi had me pause while she gathered supplies.

Then she begged me to start over.

"There's so many new words. I have to study them," she said. Each new word, she copied mostly to the letter. Every so often, her eyes and brain would tire and she'd veer off into her own spellings. But she was faithful. No unfamiliar word escaped her notice. Thirty minutes later we finally finished the story.

And she had her first vocabulary list.

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