I spoke to Rosie last night, who impressed with the as yet unnamed pirate, has employed my services (or at least submitted to my pleas) to make the alphabet cards for Baby Tinker’s nursery. Rosie and Adrian are currently insisting that the child is going to be called “Kiwi Bob Snottit” for reasons known only to themselves.
Rosie has made her first purchase for Tinker. She has been very good, despite being generally a bit of a girl and taking great pleasure in shopping. And I am very pleased to report that this purchase consisted of ten Ladybird books, including Treasure Island, Oliver Twist, Alice in Wonderland and The Three Musketeers. Great stuff.
“Of course, the baby will have books for cousins,” I say.
“What?” says Rosie.
“Baby Kiwi,” I say (you have to indulge her), “He or she will have books for cousins.”
“What do you mean?” says Rosie.
“Books. It’s a metaphor. One is coming into the world as we speak.”
“You’re giving birth to a metaphor?”
“No, a book.”
“Eek! Is it a hardback or a paperback?”
Rosie does seem very confused at this stage of pregnancy; she stated that [...] was an only child who grew up in Barnsley. She has known him for almost seven years. Mind you, when I said that he had lived in Burnley at one point, she declared that this was the same thing; the two places begin with B and they are both Up North.
We had much fun discussing inappropriate words for every letter in this alphabet I am going to do – we managed to come up with one almost entirely made up of words for bottoms and digestive processes, only most of the pictures would be similar.
In all seriousness, it is a challenge. You have to think of appropriate words for each letter of the alphabet where
(a) a child will be able to recognise the object early on (why give the child the concept of yacht which it must differentiate from boat?)
(b) a child will be able to pronounce the word fairly early on
(c) a child will be able to read the word as soon as it begins to read (whilst elephant makes for a nice picture, why burden a child with ph before it has mastered its single letter sounds?)
But also, one has to consider;
(d) the relationship between the letter, the shape, the colour and the sound of the word and any sound association between the letter and the object.
For example, snake is a great word because you can make the snake curl into the shape of the letter S. You can also make a snake as colourful as you like. And the snake hisses – it makes an S sound. Fantastic. Similarly whale can have lots of waves in the shape of the (more rounded) letter W. And whales make a “Wibble!” sound, or at least it would be good if they did, so why not pretend?
However, some letters are absolute bastards. Sometimes I wonder why we have the letter X in our alphabet at all. You can only do X-Ray where an X sounds like an X. This will make for an amusing picture, but it is rather advanced concept.
You can tell that I am taking the duties of auntihood seriously. I have even been revising Piagetian Theory. Anyway, they're going to have a scan in a few weeks, so hopefully you'll be able see a picture of The Science Project - I mean Tinker- very shortly.