Thursday, April 10, 2008

My Chair

A couple of months back some librarians on a discussion list I read were talking about how to help kids develop a sense of imagination and creativity in this age of prepackaged entertainment. My Chair, by Betsy James and illustrated by Mary Newell DePalma, takes a very ordinary everyday object and shows how children's imaginations can transform it into any number of things.

Children begin to gather various chairs together on the lawn. Through their play, the chairs become so many marvelous things. A plastic chair is the seat atop an elephant, a tire swing is a trapeze, and a cushy plush chair is a little-brother-eating monster.

Chairs can be very different. "My chair rocks. My chair rolls." The latter is a wheelchair, which is described as being "like glasses-I put it on in the morning. I wear my chair to zoom like a roller skater, dance like a bear."

Chairs are covered and piled up to become a fort or forest, a ship or cage. The space underneath a chair is a place of safety or privacy.

Finally all of the children and their parents are gathered (with their chairs) to welcome the newest arrival, who of course has a special baby chair.

My Chair is an interesting and thoughtful book about a seemingly mundane topic. But as many of the librarians mentioned above pointed out, it's when children use those everyday objects to create their fun that they are using their imaginations to the fullest potential.

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