4.09.2009

Overdone

We've been reading Now We Are Six. There's a lovely little poem about a charcoal-burner, and Nathan wanted to know what on earth a charcoal burner was, and so I looked it up on wikipedia. It was also a good chance to clear up a trivial controversy that had been floating about our house--Andrew and I had been disputing whether charcoal was partially burnt wood, or simply another word for coal.

Turns out we were both sort of right. All coal is vegetable matter that's been condensed down through heat and pressure. It's a process that can happen over many years, deep in the bowels of the earth. Or people can make it happen much faster.

Of course I don't understand the process very well, but I did my best to explain it, and Nathan seemed to find my account very satisfactory indeed.

Dawning recognition broke forth on his face. "Oh! Like when you have a special piece of meat, and you cook it very carefully... that's charcoal!"

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nathan must be related to his grandpa-- that is the appropriate way to treat a special piece of meat.

Funny you should mention Now We Are Six, because I was thinking of it this morning. I was thinking of Wocky Jabber (I love it!) and it reminds me of something. Is there something in Now We Are Six that it should remind me of? Or is it just a Milne-esque meter?

I would look in our copy but our copy was not ours but yours, and I'm glad to hear another generation is enjoying it!

Mom

Elena said...

Well, I was definitely taking inspiration from Milne, but from his prose, not his poetry.

I love the way he puts forth a child's perspective, using the full force of a well-educated grown-up mind to present a child's thoughts, respectfully preserving the whimsy.

Books like Winnie-the-Pooh are so valuable for the parent/child relationship, because they help to explain each to the other.

But you still have my childhood copy of Now We Are Six... or at least I hope you do. We just picked up a paperback at Barnes and Nobles, while I was finding a copy of Dewey's How We Think to read madly on the plane so I could discuss it with folks in California.

Which book, incidentally, serves precisely the opposite function of Winnie-the-Pooh and Now We are Six, putting forth disrespectful and absurd accounts of childhood that are just complicated enough to sound like they might be true.

He says that the goal of education is to take children, who, in the childishness of their childish minds are capable only of dull practical things such as planning commute routes, and helping them learn to play with soap bubbles. Soap bubbles being the sort of thing only interesting to the most highly trained of scientific minds. And so we must carefully teach children to love soap bubbles by showing them how they're really a lot like bus schedules. And if for some reason it doesn't work, it's either because we haven't tried hard enough, or perhaps because some children are just inherently stupid. It's a tough job, you know, teaching children how to play with soap bubbles.

But I digress.

In our house, we are all in full agreement that soap bubbles and A. A. Milne are utterly wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Whoops, your sister reminds me that she was given that copy of Now We Are Six for her sixth birthday. Which makes sense, because you and I learned to love the library copy when you were that age. Well, you and she will have to figure that out if you remember differently.

Elena said...

No, that sounds right. =)

Nan said...

You can also make charcoal from plant material other than wood. One of the things I do with people in my villages is burn charcoal from corn cobs.