Previous by DateNext by Date Date Index
Previous by ThreadNext by Thread Thread Index
LM_NET Archive

Richie's Picks: NO! by David McPhail,  Roaring Brook, March 2009, 40p., 
ISBN: 978-1-59643-288-8  

"...and the big fat bird said I'M GOING TO EAT YOU  UP
and the big fat worm said OH NO YOU'RE NOT
and the big fat bird said OH YES I AM
and the worm said NO..."
-- from THE BIG FAT WORM by Nancy Van Laan and Marisabina  Russo, ill., 
Knopf, 1987.
I used THE BIG FAT WORM the other day during my  presentation to young 
students at Sonoma State University's Summer Reading  Academy.  I discovered the 
book at the library when it was first  published, back in my early days as 
a preschool director.  Over those  years, it was a story I had kids act out 
well over a thousand  times.  When it comes to acting, it is pretty easy  to 
get quartets of little kids as young as two or three years old  to come 
take their turns up in front of their school mates, pretending  to be the big 
fat worm, bird, cat, or dog, and using their loudest voices  to tell each 
other NO!
Saying NO! -- whether it is to one's peers, parents, other  authority 
figures, or to the government -- is one of those  essential skills that are best 
learned sooner rather than later.   (Just ask Melinda Sordino.)  Sure, it is 
so frustrating as a parent or  teacher to be on the receiving end of that 
NO! when it feels like it is being  given in response to a legitimate 
request.  But in the long run, it is such  a relief and so worth it -- being, of 
course, that you cannot  always be there to protect them -- to know that your 
kids know perfectly well  how to forcefully say NO!
In a picture book with exactly three words of dialogue --  the same 
two-letter word repeated three times -- David McPhail's young character  causes the 
world to do a one-eighty through his assertive use of the  word "NO!"
Leading up to the title page, McPhail's young boy character is  writing a 
letter to the President, licking the envelope, and sticking on a  stamp.   As 
he leaves home and traverses the town on the way to the  mailbox, he 
witnesses jets bombing a nearby village, tanks decimating part of  the 
neighborhood through which he is walking, faceless troops kicking in the  door of 
apartment in which a mother and her children are situated, and a  policeman 
and police dog charging after a man who has defaced a poster of the  
President.  When the young boy finally arrives at the mailbox, there  is a big boy 
leaning against it who knocks off the young boy's cap, grabs him by  the 
collar, and prepares to wallop him.  It is then that the young boy has  had it.  
By saying NO! to the bully, everything is changed.   As the young boy 
retraces his steps heading homeward with the reformed  bully at his heels, we see 
the police dog licking the poster defacer's face,  the troops giving 
presents to the mom and her children, one of  the tanks providing horsepower for a 
plow, and one of the jet bombers  dropping a parachute that holds a bicycle 
onto which the young boy and  the reformed bully mount and upon which they 
ride away.
Ten years ago David McPhail's picture book MOLE MUSIC became  one of my 
all-time favorites.  NO! makes for a great companion to MOLE  MUSIC.  Both 
provide calls for sanity and simple directions for children  (and adults) on how 
to make the world a better place.  
And be sure not to miss the very end of the story, when we get  to read 
what the young boy has actually written to the President.  

Richie  Partington, MLIS
Richie's Picks 
Moderator,  _ 
_ ( 

**************An Excellent Credit Score is 750. See Yours in Just 2 Easy 

Please note: All LM_NET postings are protected by copyright law.
  You can prevent most e-mail filters from deleting LM_NET postings
  by adding LM_NET@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU to your e-mail address book.
To change your LM_NET status, you send a message to:
In the message write EITHER:

 * LM_NET Help & Information:
 * LM_NET Archive:
 * EL-Announce with LM_NET Select:
 * LM_NET Supporters:


LM_NET Mailing List Home