In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Reading aloud with accents

Dear Aunt Debbie,

I love the Allan Ahlberg video.  His reading of the word "Peepo," though, is so restrained -- in our house, the Americanized refrain of "Peek-a-boo!" is joyful and very loud.

As I've mentioned before, we're big fans in this house of reading things aloud with funny accents -- I've even put up a list on this blog of "Books it's fun to read aloud with funny accents."

One of our current favorite read-alouds fits this category to a T: Mo Willems's fabulous The Pigeon Has Feelings, Too!  There are several Pigeon books in the series that started with Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, some board book-length, some larger picture-book length (no surprise that Isabel is a big fan of  The Pigeon Wants a Puppy).  In each, the pigeon tries to wheedle his way into or out of something, using a variety of toddler-inspired techniques: whining, exclaiming, pouting, begging, hopping around in joy.  The pigeon's supporting characters include a bus driver (clearly the adult in the situation) and a small yellow chick with big innocent eyes.

It's the bus driver who starts off the action in The Pigeon Has Feelings, Too! by exhorting the pigeon: 

"Hey pigeon!  Why don't you show everybody your happy face?"  

The pigeon responds:

Why should I?  Do I get on your bus and tell you how to drive?  
Boy, you sure know how to make a bird angry.
And sad.
Everyone always tells me what to do."

Each line is accompanied by a picture of the pigeon expressively demonstrating his emotion. I'd scan a couple now,  but I seem to have left the book in the girls' room.  Fortunately, I've inadvertently memorized every word of it.

A while ago, we somehow started reading both the bus driver and the pigeon with super-broad New York accents -- think Guys and Dolls, and you'll get the idea: "Boy, you shua know how to make a boid angry."  Now Eleanor can recite the whole book too, complete with accent (Isabel chimes in on "And sad" and "Yippee!" at the end).  So if my kids grow up pronouncing "time" "toim," you'll know how it started....

Love, Annie

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