Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Room Full of Laughter

Years and years ago I saw a book called Children's Faces Looking Up. This book by Dorothy Dewit is out of print but is something of a classic of storytelling ideas. Unfortunately, I did not grab a copy of the book when I first saw it. (I had no idea at the time that I would "grow up" to be a school librarian with an interest in storytelling.) The title has stuck with me and comes to mind often when I am telling stories or reading to a group of children. Those faces looking up are one of the greatest joys of my job.

An even greater joy, however, comes when the entire class spontaneously bursts into laughter. That doesn't happen often. Usually there is at least one child who is either disengaged or just does not get the joke.

On Friday at Jump Start Camp, the magical room full of laughter occurred while I read Monkey With a Tool Belt by Chris Monroe. I have read this book several times before and while the kids always enjoy the story, I have never had such a simultaneous roar of laughter.

The monkey in the title is named Chico Bon Bon (for the rest of the day several children called themselves Chico Bon Bon--it is a catchy name, don't you think?). He is never far from his trusty tool belt which is illustrated in great detail, pointing out tools like a monkey wrench, a donkey wrench, a turkey wrench, and other real and imagined tools. In this first of the tool belt series, Chico is captured by an appropriately evil-looking organ grinder. Chico uses his tools to mastermind an escape. It was when we got to the part of the escape that involved a large hammer coming in contact with the organ grinder's big toe that the room burst into laughter.

Is there any better sound than 19 children laughing with pure delight?

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