What’s in a name? How do you spell it?
Brown-skinned Phoebe and her classmates, evidently kindergarteners, are practicing writing their names. Noticing how Mama sewed the name on her backpack, Phoebe realizes it isn’t spelled phonetically, despite a teacher’s instruction to “just sound it out.” Studying the alphabet chart, Phoebe recognizes that F makes the initial sound of her name. So she writes, sounding out as she goes, until the final result: Feeby, which is praised as “a great start.” New spellers will relate to Phoebe’s dilemma, but there are glaring logical lapses here. First, Phoebe spies her name on the backpack before her teacher asks her to “sound it out.” If the kids are simply practicing writing their names, wouldn’t she copy Mama’s version instead of believing that Mama got it wrong? Moreover, many children entering school know how to spell their names, which they’re likely not encouraged to spell phonetically. Finally, are teachers really so nonchalant when students misspell their names? Still, there’s a lesson here for kids wading into the vagaries of English spelling, and it’s reassuring that mistakes are forgiven. The flat, cheerful, cartoony illustrations depict racially diverse students and adults (in addition to Phoebe, her mom, some of the children, and one of the teachers have brown skin); a girl is shown in a wheelchair, and a wall chart features Braille.
Flawd but makes a point about fun with fonicks. (Picture book. 3-6)