The Little Word Catcher is a heartwarming picture book about a little girl and her experiences with her aging grandmother. The book is a translation of La petite rapporteuse de mots. Geneviève Côté received the Governor General’s Award for her illustrations for the book.
To begin the book, we are invited into the point of view of the young narrator, Elise: “Did you know that words could get lost? My grandmother misplaces her words all the time.” Readers are given light-hearted examples of Elise and her family “lending” Grandma their words. The storytelling and illustrations show everyday events and emotions that children of all ages can identify and empathize with. For example, at the supermarket Grandma forgets the word to describe something that she needs and the resulting frustration and sadness soon turn to laughter when Elise finds the lost word – toilet paper!
Audiences of all ages can connect to the characters’ journey to accept and understand their “new normal” through the beautiful drawings and narrative of their interactions at home and outside in nature. The topic of a loved one’s memory loss is presented in a sensitive, child-friendly context of caring family relationships. The author provides us with plenty of optimism to continue Elise’s quest with a spirit of adventure: “… I will have to find out where her words are hiding. I could catch them all with a big net…”
I was intrigued and inspired by the young girl’s courage to embrace and treasure the new challenges of communicating with her beloved grandmother. Readers young and old will want to view the eye-catching illustrations, which include a pet cat’s adorable antics, again and again.
I recommend this book for grades 1 to 5, with possible Citizenship and Language curriculum connections for older grades. The Little Word Catcher would be a great provocation for grade 1 Social Studies concepts of continuity and change, interrelationships and significance. This book would make a welcome addition to any classroom library and is an excellent resource for character development (respect, empathy, kindness, perseverance).
Marlene Augerman is a member of the Greater Essex Teacher Local.