January 12, 2013

Guess What?

Illustrated by Vivienne Goodman

GuessWhat

When you see the astonishing illustrations in this book (I kiss the feet of Vivienne Goodman) you’ll realise why it took almost five years for it to be completed, in spite of the sparseness of my very simple text. There are many hidden bits of hilarious detail that are so clever I asked the Australian publishers, Omnibus, to put a guide to them in the back of the most recent edition (2008).

I was re-reading one of my favourite books on the teaching of literacy: Independence in Reading by Don Holdaway, (Scholastic 1980) when it hit me that, yes, guessing was the main strategy we use in reading, all of us, even when we are proficient. We guess what a word will be—or even a sentence—based on what we have just read; what we know about the world; what we know about language; and what we know about print. It all happens much faster than the blink of an eye. To help children to learn to read I thought I’d make that expectation strategy explicit by asking a question that finished in GUESS?, and following it on the next page with YES!

‘Far away from here lives a crazy lady called Daisy O’Grady.
Is she tall and thin? Guess?
Yes!
Does she wear a long black dress? Guess?
Yes!
Is she fond of animals? Guess?
Yes!…’

And I’ll leave you guessing as to who Daisy O’Grady turns out to be…

GuessWhat02