A collective gasp swirls through the crowd.
“They are bunny rabbit pirates,” I add, “and they are fierce.”
Their eyes bulge. Their mouths open. Fierce bunny rabbits! Who could imagine?
“All but one,” I say, holding up a finger. “His name is Henry, and all he wants to do is read.”
I shrug my shoulders as if to say I have no idea why Henry would rather read a book instead of do whatever it is pirates do.
“But I have to warn you,” I say. “There is a word in this story that is so funny you are going to for sure laugh when you hear it.”
Eyes light up and grins appear.
“The thing is, the word means something different in pirate speak, and it’s important you know what the word means so you can understand the story.”
Grins are now toothy — and a few toothless — smiles. Who cares what the word means, Mrs. Feyen? We just want to laugh!
“Are you ready?”
“It’s really funny,” I say, drawing the suspension out as long as I can. “Even I am going to laugh.”
Giggles already erupt like popcorn kernels, like sparks of lava before the entire volcano erupts.
“The word is ‘booty’!” I exclaim, and these squirmy 5- and 6-year-olds are literally rolling on the floor laughing. We revel in one of the most gloriously hilarious words around, and then I say, “But listen! Remember that I said it means something else to pirates?”
They’re still giggling, but they are listening too, so I continue. “To pirates, ‘booty’ means treasure.”
“Treasure? Like, gold?”
“Exactly,” I say. “And jewels and all kinds of fancy things.”
They’re grinning, but I can tell they’re imaging sparkly, shiny things.
“So when you hear that word, you’re going to laugh, but remember what pirates mean when they use it.”
“Treasure!” they all shout, though it’s more of a reverent noise than it is a rowdy one. They’re ready to see something new in a word that for all of their little lives has only stood for one thing.
Of course, Henry, the reading pirate bunny, believes the greatest treasure of all is the sparkly, shiny sort found in books. No one on the ship agrees with him, and worst, they make fun of and bully him. Henry is lonely. It’s one thing to find and to hold treasure, but its true power comes when we use and share what we’ve found.
I understand why he’d be lonely. It’s terrible not being able to share your gifts. It’s simply no fun to keep the booty to yourself.
One day there’s a storm, and Henry and the rest of the bunny pirates are shipwrecked — no shelter, no food, no booty. That is, until Henry uses all he’s learned from books to build a home, cook food, and even sew clothes for his crew. Eventually, Henry builds a new ship, and the pirates set sail. This time they head to the library because pirates be learnin’ that the true booty is the sort we devour in them books. Arrrgh!
(Want to read the story yourself? Find Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies, here. I highly recommend you read it with your favorite First Grader. You will make their day.)
This week, write a poem about the treasure you’ve found in a book. Bonus points for writing it in pirate speak or using a word, like “booty,” in a new way.
Thanks to everyone who participated in last week’s poetry prompt. Here’s one from Linda Thorla we enjoyed.