Saturday, April 4, 2009

My Nephew's Smarter Than Your Nephew

My nephew is 9 1/2 and absolutely adorable. In addition to being adorable, he is also brilliant. Of course I am biased...but please, just ignore that fact for a moment and go with me here. Seriously, the kid is sophisticated in thought, although, I admit, not yet in action (he still likes to smack his sister when she talks too much and often trips over his own, giant feet).

At a thrift store near my house I found him a book called Maximum Boy: The Hijacking of Manhattan by Dan Greenburg. I thought this was a perefct title because this summer he will finally be old enough to visit me in New York City.
I tucked him in (and after having to explain that he could not play his Nintendo DS while I read to him becuase 1. it was rude and 2. it was important to focus on one thing at a time) read him two chapters. The book was not terribly interesting for me, but he was really into it and that made it an awesome book in my eyes. The names of the characters made him giggle (things like Shmegeggi and Poopenstein).

Then, I told him he could play his Nintendo DS until he fell asleep (I'm the Auntie, I get to do things like that instead of forcing him to go to bed at a reasonable hour like a responsible adult should). After about 20 minutes I heard his cute little voice calling my name, "Auntie, I'm bored. Will you read me another chapter?" What! Unlimited Nintendo DS is this kids dream in life! And he wants me to read him more of this silly book! Uh, okay. So I read him two more chapters and then turned off the lights.

The next day I expected him to have lost interest in the book, but no! He finds me and his Grandma sitting outside and walks over with the book and says, "Auntie. Read." Well, okay then. As a teacher, I could not help but insist that he summarize what had already transpired so as to catch Grandma up. His summary was succinct and precise. I love this kid! Did I mention he is in Special Education and diagnosed ADHD? Grumble, grumble, stupid school system, grumble. Anyway, I finish the book, and he loves it. He wants the next one in the series. We go to the book store (this is a kid who got to play hooky from school to hang out with me becuase I was only in town for a few days and I told him I would take him anywhere he wanted and we went to the bookstore). Unfortunately, the series is out of print.

Instead, I bought us a copy of Boyds Will Be Boyds: Get Well Soon or Else by Sarah Weeks, who will be my teacher next Fall.

My mother was driving, so as soon as I got in the car I started reading to him (as a nerdly little kid I trained myself to be able to read in a moving car and not get sick). The book starts right in the middle of a conversation between the protagonist and Fink, about how they do not want to see their teacher in a nightgown. Through the conversation it is revealed that they are thinking about this because of their upcoming 5th grade, week-long, camping trip. At about the third page it provides a few sentences of exposition about who the main charatcer is and what his relationship is to Fink. From the backseat I hear, "Auntie, that sentence you just read should have been the first sentence. Becuase when it started I didn't know who was talking or who he was talking to. But now I know they're friends. So, it should have said..." And then, from memory, he recites the sentence I just read and creates a seemless transition to the first paragraph of the book. It was an awesome revision.

Did I mention he's brilliant?

Now, I don't think I will tell my teacher that a 9 1/2 year old kid revised her work, but I do know that his words have certainly answered the question I posed last week about how to start the first chapter of my novel!

Thanks, dude. Auntie loves you.


  1. Whoa! Smart kid! I can't wait to meet him when he comes to NYC.

    Also,your story goes to show the power of books against video games. Reading will always be cool. Not to mention versatile: you will never need to upgrade to a new gaming system.

  2. haha. yeah. not sure you want to tell Sarah that. Although, why not!??! :)


  3. Check out this blog post about old skool video games