It is my great hope and belief that a child who comes across an obscure word such as ninnyhammer or brabbler in my Carnaby stories will repeat it – either using it correctly (with the help of the definitions provided on the page) or however they like – as a form of nonsense word or as a stand-in word for whatever word they choose.
It is my other great belief that a child reading a book, whether it be alone or with a parent or sibling, is ready for new experiences.
Introducing new words in madcap stories such as Carnaby Street is intended to be stress-free. This is why I have placed these words so that they can be taken to mean virtually anything. What they mean is left to the child’s imagination. They may use their imagination to locate the hidden definitions on the page, or they may use this imagination to make up their own meaning.
During the production of Around The World in Eighty Years, we finally opted to hang the expense, and include a small plastic magnifying sheet. We were so keen on the hidden words that we felt that the book would be lacking something if we couldn’t supply a word hunt of this kind. It is a huge relief to me to see that children are using the sheets to find the words and that they are repeating the words elsewhere. I have found that they return to the book many times rather than reading it once and casting it aside.
I have also heard from some parents who tell me that after they have read a Carnaby book with their children, the odd word from it has snuck out of the pages and has been adopted as part of the family. If this is the case, I am delighted. You might have guessed that the adoption of these sad, underused and discarded words is very close to my heart. The fact that ninnyhammer might finally become part of the family leaves me with a warm glow.
And now, licketty-spit . . .
Carnaby’s Off-Kilter Prize goes to US company Deluxe Comfort for their Hug Me Pillow (which is a large armed shaped cushion that’s being marketed as a comforting snuggle pillow). Amazon.co.uk
While the Brabbler’s Sizzling Squib for Endangered Words goes to Edward Lear for his creation of the word Runcible in The Owl and the Pussycat.