Literary critic

I just found this gem of a conversation. Frances had just turned four.

Frances: The ugly duckling is really a swan? The swan egg got accidentally into the duck nest? How could that have happened? That doesn’t make any sense…!

Me: Uh…


Well, does she?

Frances asks me to read Amelia Bedelia (by Peggy Parish) to her this afternoon.

Amelia Bedelia is a domestic helper who interprets language rather literally much to the initial chagrin of her employers.

For example, “undust the furniture” makes more sense than the instructions to dust the furniture do, but she dusts the furniture at any rate.

At this point, Frances asks: “Does she have autism?”

She, then, proceeds to show me how each page of our vintage copy differs from the more modern version in her classroom, right down to the period and the colour differences of objects depicted in the story’s rooms.

In the end, the owners of the house decide that Amelia Bedelia should remain in their employ and they adapt to her language difficulty.

Does Amelia Bedelia have autism? I don’t know, but Frances, who does not laugh throughout the reading, believes she does.

Escaping the confines…

We were leaving a bookstore when my six-year-old daughter’s frantic little voice reached me. Frances excitedly  waved a book from her favourite Mo Willems series in my face:

It was as if she had always hoped that the author’s characters would develop greater self-awareness. I couldn’t stop myself from giggling.