This afternoon we read the book, much to Archer's delight. (We had checked the picturebook version out of the library before, but the original is a short chapter book.) I was charmed by the effusive, slightly mannered style of the writing. A short excerpt will make my point: In chapter 4, "The Museum Thieves," Stanley and his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Lambchop, are distressed to learn that their neighbor, who is the director of the Famous Museum of Art in town, is being plagued by theft. Mr. Lambchop reads a quote from the Chief of Police in the newspaper:
"We suspect a gang of sneak thieves. These are the worst kind. They work by sneakery, which makes them very difficult to catch. However, my men and I will keep trying. Meanwhile, I hope people will buy tickets for the Policemen's Ball and not park their cars where signs say don't."I'm not sure why Archer was so enthralled by this story -- perhaps because he already knew it from discussions at school or our previous picturebook version. But during the brief episode where Arthur, Stanley's brother, piles encyclopedias on himself in a fit of jealousy, Archer interrupted me to observe: "He's trying to get flat." It's highly unusual for Archer to even understand motivations in a story; most often when asked about why someone is doing something, he's stymied. The fact that he not only comprehended this, but was interested enough to comment on it -- combined with his spirited rendition of the final chapter, which he read aloud to Cady Gray and me -- made this particular storytime very special indeed.