“A Hole is To Dig: A First Book of First Definitions” by Ruth Krauss; pictures by Maurice Sendak
Do you remember a TV show of yesteryear with the unctuous emcee Art Linkletter, called “Kids Say the Darndest Things?”
During the show, Art would ply young kids with the simplest questions and the answers would sometimes be innocently on target, but nonetheless un PC, but emit roars of laughter from the audience.
I thought of that show from the 50’s when I reread “A Hole is To Dig: A First Book of First Definitions,” published in 1956, when the world was a more innocent place and so were kids who were chiefly playing outside till the streetlights went on, and maybe if they had a TV, were watching the black and white version of “Superman” or “The Lone Ranger.”
“A Hole To Dig: A First Book of First Definitions,” written by Ruth Krauss and illustrated by Maurice Sendak, along with the “many children who made suggestion, revisions (and subtractions) to this book had this to say:
“Eyebrows are to go over a face.”
“A face is something to have on the front of your head.” OR “A face is so you can make faces.”
“Hands are to hold.” OR “A hand is to hold up when you want your turn.”
“A party is to say how-do-you-do and shake hands.” OR “A party is to make little children happy.”
“A book is to look at.” Simple and succinct, right?
” Steps are to sit on.”
” A package is to look inside.”
” A lap is so that you don’t get crumbs on the floor.”
And my favorite…”A dream is to look at the night and see things.”
I wonder if this book were revised in 2019, what definitions of simple every day things, might our young readers choose to define, and how would they define them?
Maurice Sendak’s famous black and white drawings make the kids playful and perceptive as they act out the definitions!
So the old expression, “Out of the mouths of babes,” might be a lesson to all of us not to complicate life, but to look at it for what it CAN be – simple and enjoyable. The definitions themselves may call up moments in your own children’s lives.
And hey, ask THEM how they might define these WORDS? Fun to see how little or lots young readers have changed in 63 years!!!!
And picking up a copy of the classic, “A Hole Is To Dig: A First Book of First Definitions” is the first place to start.
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