by Leland James
($16.95, (7” X 10”) Paperback, 92 pages – including 29 wonderful color illustrations by Anne Zimanski)
The Little Red Book of Wordplay: —with Perspicacious the Cat by Leland James is a wonderful book of words for children.
Words, figures of speech, in particular, are fun! Alliteration, onomatopoeia, hyperbole, idiom ….
Why not present these to young people as enjoyment, not as academic exercises with definitions to be memorized, regurgitated, and forgotten. Wordplay with Perspicacious asks the question and answers it: make words fun and let the learning come along for the ride.
Each figure of speech is presented in a stanza or two of poetry crafted by internationally acclaimed poet, Leland James. The verse introduces the figure of speech, with clever (wordplay) examples. Each figure of speech is supported by illustrations, whimsically capturing the figure of speech, in illustrations by Anne Zimanski (highly lauded illustrator of Leland James’ earlier children’s books, Longberry’s Leap and A Mice Christmas, both also from Little Red Tree Publishing). Vocabulary is presented alongside the poetry, for exploring new good-tasting words. Examples from literature and song lyrics come next, followed by a “Perspicacious Challenge,” a wordplay exercise. The use of the book in mentoring young persons is discussed in an author’s note prefacing the book. The book has been extensively tested with young people during its writing by Leland James who does poetry readings for young and old on a regular basis.
The primary goal of the book is instilling the joy of words, as the quote from Robert Frost at the beginning of the book says: ” … all the fun’s in how you say a thing.”
Here’s the flavor of the book, from the introduction:
Wordplay is not like building with blocks,
more like hopscotch, or the tying of knots;
Or filling your pockets with exquisite rocks;
Or guessing how many a beetle has spots….
Exquisite, a tasty word, is singled out and defined in the context of the verse.
exquisite [ik-skwiz-it]: a specially high level of beauty, The pearl necklace is exquisite.
The comprehension of definitions and vocabulary were tested during the piloting of the book, and happily, they did in most cases “come along for the ride.”