Beginning with a list of 13 words, Snicket (a.k.a. Daniel Handler) created a story that is fun and silly and that contains just a little bit of learning. The thirteen words are these:
1. BirdAs you can see, some are easy, everyday words and some need to be defined within the story for the young readers that are enjoying the story. I thought it was very well executed and Z now knows what a convertible and a mezzo-soprano are! We also loved the artwork of Maira Kalman. I've already enjoyed her New York Times pieces in the past and, though I wouldn't have thought of her as a picture book illustrator, her simple and colorful drawings are just the thing to bring this story to life.
One of the things I immediately thought of with this book was the opportunity for teachers and librarians to use this as a launching point for a student activity. By giving the kids a list of words, some known and some unknown, you could allow them to write their own stories and learn how to research words that are new to them. In fact, I thought it would be fun to do this at home with Z. So, here is Z's version of 13 Words with the words I gave him in bold. He composed and typed it all by himself and we had a browser window open to dictionary.com which he used to look up the words that he didn't know.
There once was a boy named Earl.
Suddenly, Earl met a monkey.
Earl and the monkey rode a bicycle.
All the monkeys think Earl is carefree.
Earl and the monkey splashed into a puddle.
“I’m so distracted!” said the monkey.
Earl and the monkey rode the bicycle into a grotto.
There was a popsicle shop in the grotto.
There was an alligator for a cashier.
The monkey went to her mother.
The monkey gave her mother a genuine popsicle.
“I’m tired.” said the monkey.
Earl was grateful for his family.
Not bad for a six year old, right? And he actually used grateful in a sentence the next day! If you decide to try this activity with your kids or students, leave us a link or paste your story in the comments. And this is one of the few times that I will recommend that you watch the book trailer. It's hilarious and features the very silly Lemony Snicket and a real live mezzo-soprano!
Genuinely grateful for good picture books,
K and Z
Support our site and buy 13 Words on Amazon or find it at your local library. We borrowed our copy from the library and helped Z's school library get a copy.