Sunday, September 28, 2008

Footnotes and other awesome things

Incidentally, this is my fourth blog post in a row about kids and reading. Incidentally, maybe not coincidentally (although I thought I knew what each of those words meant, but then in looking them up and trying to figure out specifics, I got confused. Oh, vocabulary. It's good for me to be reminded of how confusing dictionaries can be, even when you're a grown-up and like them and know how to use them and even mostly know what the words mean that you are looking up!).

I just finished Sharon Creech's fabulous Heartbeat, another of her great mid-grade novels written as a series of poems. In Heartbeat, the poems are by our heroine, twelve-year-old Annie. This one made me super happy:


In school we are learning footnotes.1

It made me laugh to hear them called

I pictured little notes on my feet
and could not stop giggling
as Mr. Welling tried to explain
why we needed to do footnotes2
and the exact, correct format

and we had to practice everything exactly right
with the commas and the colons
in the right place

He was very

And I liked getting everything
in the right place
and knowing there was a plan
for how to do it right

but then I could not get the footnotes
out of my mind
and started putting them everywhere--
on spelling tests
and on math homework--

and just about everywhere
where I wanted to add a little explanation
(which you do not normally have a chance to do
on tests or homework)

but I am not sure all of my teachers
appreciate the footnotes3

and now I am dreaming
in footnotes

which is a peculiar thing.

I dreamed of running past the barn
and in my head I saw a footnote
which said
Faded red barn
and when I passed the church
I saw a footnote
Old stone church
and on like that
footnotes for every little thing

and when I stopped at the red bench
and looked at the soles of my feet
all the little notes were printed there
in charcoal pencil

and somehow it pleased me
that the notes were there
imprinted on my feet--


1. Like this.
2. To show where we found information, or sometimes to explain something further.
3. One teacher wrote "Very amusing," but another put two angry red question marks by each footnote.

No comments: