Last night we read BIG PLANS by Bob Shea and Lane Smith, and Max sat on my lap the whole way through. THAT is unusual. Usually, we get about 6 pages in and he gets up off my lap to play with a toy while I finish reading aloud. The reason, I think, is that the parts of the book that were all capitalized encouraged me to read them REALLY LOUD, which kept his attention.
The only unfortunate part about this book is that the part repeated the most (“I GOT BIG PLANS! BIG PLANS, I SAY!”) is not correct grammar. If I”m going to say something over and over again to teach it to Max, I want him to be speaking in correct grammar. So I edited the sentence and said “I’ve got big plans!” instead.
That said, the creativity and active imagination this book promotes is outstanding. These skills are highly important to Max’s generation, since so many of the careers available to them will necessitate thinking outside the box.
Combining unlike elements is a skill practiced in improvisational comedy. (Come on, who hasn’t marveled at Whose Line Is It Anyway?) If you remember the scene in Apollo 13 in which the engineers have to create a piece of equipment from nothing but what the astronauts have in space, you know that NASA engineers rely on creativity as well.
The first page of illustration shows a little boy in the corner of his classroom. He must have gotten in trouble because the clock shows that school is out, and there are lines he has written on the chalkboard. The things he sees in the classroom are:
- A book on tall tales
- A map of the world
- A poster of birds, including a myna bird
- A model helicopter
- A football
- A skunk
- A book on U.S. Presidents
- A book on rocketry
- A poster with phases of the moon
So, because he has been taught about all these different things, the little boy is able to combine them into a story that could certainly be considered a tall tale:
As he plans to tell the whole world about his big plans, he meets a myna bird who becomes his sidekick. After they interrupt a board meeting, they hop into a helicopter and join a football game. The boy finds a quarter under a skunk and wears it as he takes over the job of the President. As president, the boy orders a rocket built which he flies to the moon. He leaves a message on the moon for the whole world to read of his plans.
The message, I think, is that children can do anything they put their minds to, however creative it might be, as long as they are given the tools.
BIG PLANS deserves 5 snacks: