My daughter, Hannah, and I discovered Clive in a garden nursery in Allison Park, PA. He was lounging there, lost in thought, and beckoned to me to tell his story. I was delighted to oblige.
In relating his tale, he included lovely words, such as bellicose, scrutiny, meticulously, and soiree. But, that's not all. His story, in addition to expanding the vocabularies of young readers, teaches an important social lesson about stereotyping, labeling, and prejudice.
“It is a sad, sad thing to be a warthog so misunderstood,” lamented Clive as he closed his first-edition “Great Expectations” which he had been devouring that evening. Reading was his escape from a cruel and unkind world. He contemplated how the world deemed him cruel and unkind simply because of his birth into a species notorious for being aggressive and bellicose.
And, so goes the story of Clive, named after his mother's favorite author, C.S. Lewis. He is a warthog of "superior breeding and upbringing." The problem is, he lives in a world that judges and labels everyone on the bad habits of a few.
This is the first book in the "Tell Me What That Word Means" series. In the back of the book is the Cast of Stars, the words that listeners might stumble on and need help understanding, in the order of their appearance. They are not dry, mechanical, analytical dictionary definitions, but rather easy to understand and grasp meanings, a help to listeners and readers alike.
Emily Stewart has brilliantly adapted Clive into an iconic illustration and has perfectly captured his moods and feelings. He is not only a joy to learn from, but a joy to look upon.
Along with the book, there is a website to enjoy, where children and their adults can go each week to learn a new word, receive a challenge to utilize that word in a sentence and share it on the website, and a series of entries to support the social lesson for the book.
I hope you will consider supporting my literacy project. The story is charming, educational on several levels, and goes toward my mission to talk up to children and not shy away from the power of magnificent words.
By doing the project on my own, my goal is to be able to send one book for every two purchased to schools, public libraries, and other literacy-intense organizations. Your suggestions are certainly welcome!
Below is a nibble from the Cast of Stars, in order of appearance:
Lamented (lah-min-ted): To be sad about, to mourn, or to cry about. It is alright to lament once in a while, so long as you don’t get lost in your lamentations (lah-min-tay-shuns).
First edition (first eh-dish-un): When a book is published, it is sometimes so popular that they need to print more. A first edition means it was from the first batch that was printed. First editions are generally more valuable.
Devouring (de-vower-ing): Usually, devouring means eating a lot quickly. In this case, it’s referring to Clive reading a lot very quickly because he was enjoying the book so much.
Contemplated (kon-tim-play-tid): To think about deeply. I sometimes like to sit in the bathtub and contemplate my life.
Notorious (no-tore-ee-us): Well-known or famous in a bad way. Bank robbers and gang leaders are notorious.
Here's what others are saying about Clive and his potential:
"This whole idea is brilliant. This isn't just a book, this is a literacy program. We were on board from the beginning and support Becky's efforts in bringing Clive to life. We are all in on this project." —Jessica and Clark Andelin, parents to 3 eager readers
"When I found out about this, I became very excited. The potential here is tremendous. This is a project whose time has come. If there was ever a time for children to become more articulate, this is it. This is the answer to achieving that dream." —Carol Shepherd, mother of many and literacy proponent
"As a child development graduate, I am quite anxious to begin incorporating this book series and method in my future classes. I think the children will love Clive and identify with him on many levels. Not only does it have the potential to greatly increase their vocabularies, but the social lessons are timely and sweetly taught." —Hannah Sharpe, early childhood development instructor
Risks and challenges
As with any Quixotic mission, there is risk. Maybe others won't like the large and powerful words used in the story. Maybe the social lessons won't go over. With everything in me, I believe they will and that the risk you are taking will be minimal. There are other series' of children's books out there that include vocabulary builders, but I believe Clive brings something extra to the table that children and adults alike will find lovably satisfying.
The artwork is nearly complete. The story is edited. Now, we just need your support to do the printing and distribution.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (25 days)