Time to share a good book

[Update: the book drive is now finished — and they collected 962 books. Yay!]

What an easy idea to say yes to.

I live in East Vancouver, and pretty much my favourite present to give the kids in my life is a good book. So, when I heard that the clever folks behind Rain City Chronicles were holding a book drive to benefit the Writers’ Exchange which helps East Van kids?

Yes.

(And you can say yes too; they’re collecting new kids books until November 30 in these spots.)

It’s been really fun to see which books Vancouverites are donating, and why. Musicians, reporters, support workers, funnymen, a baker, a librarian, and many more are sharing the stories that shaped their imaginations growing up.

It’s hard to single out one — thumbs up to Tammy for her shout-out to Lowly Worm — but here’s my pick. Yet another Dr. Seuss, but one of his lesser-knowns: On Beyond Zebra.

A letter he never had dreamed of before!

At the start of the story, the narrator introduces us to a young boy, named Conrad Cornelius o’Donald o’Dell (his “very young friend who is learning to spell.”)

Conrad is quite proud of himself for learning the entire alphabet, which, as everyone knows, ends with Z. But no, says the narrator:

“In the places I go there are things that I see that I never could spell if I stopped with the Z.”

You can see where this is going. The rest of the book describes all the other letters, and the fabulous, creepy or odd animals whose names we can now spell with this extended alphabet.

As a kid, I enjoyed the rhythm of the language as he introduced each creature — though I’ll admit, the Sneedle (“a terrible kind of ferocious mos-keedle”) kind of freaked me out.

Even now, some of their descriptions still run through my mind from time to time. Like during Folk Fest, when the waves at Jericho beach are filled with people bobbing around, I always think of the Floob-Boober-Bab-Boober-Bubs (“who bounce in the water like blubbery tubs”).

But lots of children’s books have good rhymes and funny words.

I picked this book because it’s about exploration, and breaking rules — not the big kind of don’t-hurt-people rules, but the small kind that limit what’s possible.

I love writing, and get paid to do it. And while news reporters are generally discouraged from creating our own alphabet, playing with language is still one my favourite parts of communication. So I want to pass that on.

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