Children’s Book of the Week: Silent Letters Loud and Clear

Silent Letters Loud and Clear by Robin Pulver, illustrated by Lynn Rowe Reed

Let me start out by confessing that I don’t love this book. It just seems alright to me, and like maybe it’s trying too hard to be quirky, and like it’s illustrated by the poor man’s Laurie Keller. But boy oh boy did Henry love it. I think there might be a very select time in a child’s life when this book is incredibly relevant: when they’ve learned to read, but are still vexed by the crazy spelling rules of the English language, plus have at least learned what silent letters are, and what they’re for.

The basic plot is that the students in the book complain about what a pain it is too have to learn about silent letters, and what’s the point, if they’re silent anyway? The silent letters hear all this, and are sad and insulted. The students write a letter to the editor, and the silent letters fight back by sneaking out of the email just before it’s sent. And so, when the letter is published, it makes the students look like fools, because instead of saying, “Mr. Wright says good spellers are made, not born” it says “Mr. rit says good spellers ar mad, not born.” And instead of “P.S. Cate wrote this” the letter says, “P.S. Cat rot this.” (Of course, Henry thought all of this was hilarious.) The students realize the error of their ways, and write a new letter to the editor applauding silent letters.

Ok, now that I’ve written all this, I can definitely see the appeal to Henry. I mean, maybe it just seemed a bit juvenile to me, but it is a children’s book, so maybe I should just get over myself and not expect them all to be Whitefoot. (There are also other books in this series: Nouns and Verbs Have a Field Day and Punctuation Takes a Vacation. Like Silent Letters, I think they appeal to a student at a very specific time. We got Nouns and Verbs out of the library, and Henry did like it, but I had to explain what nouns and verbs were first, so it took him a little longer to get it. Though now he knows what nouns and verbs are, so that’s a bonus.)

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