“Do you know Leo?” “Leo?” his mom asks. “Yes, Leo Tolstoy.” “Leo who?” his mom replies in disbelief – she’s checking to see if she heard right. I’m right there with her. He couldn’t have said what we thought he said – so yes, let’s check. “Leo Tolstoy”, he replies “you know, he wrote War and Peace”.
Marcello has clearly been taking in the discussion and along with priming the liquid bubble container in readiness for the next goal, practicing how to whistle [he’s trying out how to do that piercing whistle with your fingers that everyone needs to learn in life – especially if you want to hail a cab in NY] and doing foot maneuvers with the soccer ball he has brought with him, he wades into the book club discussion and asks if we know Leo – you know Leo Tolstoy? He wrote War and Peace. Let me remind you again he is 5. He continues. The premise of the book is about war and peace he tells us. “I read it” he says with a simple shrug of the shoulder – as if it was nothing, just a normal thing for a 5 year old.
I freely admit that I have not read the book however know of the book so Marcello goes on to enlighten me. I ask him what it is about. “The premise”, he orates, “is about some people who want war and other people who want peace.” He’s jamming his runner into the dirt trying to kick up a rock. “Napoleon clearly wants war and the Russians want peace.” He asks his mom if she has the book and she replies she does. Both of us are stunned.
Marcello has read War and Peace. It was part of his tutor’s curriculum and clearly a novel that has resonated with him. He has read the 64 page version written by Mary Sebag-montefiore for the Usborne Young Reader series. This is a concise introduction to what is regarded as one of the greatest works of literature ever written. In 64 pages this Tolstoy epic Russian classic, first published in 1869 has now been made accessible for young readers. The Usborne Reading Programme has over 300 reading books – all classics all designed to encourage reading, while understanding the use of advanced sentence structure and vocabulary.
Who knew? I am left speechless and left encourages and excited by what these young minds are interested in, curious about. I am left with a sense of anticipation as well – anticipation about what the next discussion of the book club will bring. This is clearly a book club I want to belong to and I know I will definitely learn a lot. I know that Matteo will have lots to share as well. Being a part of a book club with a 5 and 9 year old and my sister-in-law, will certainly up my game….I will finally have to read those classics that always seemed so daunting and time consuming. I will have to keep my book reviews to books and topics that I know these young minds will find interesting, so off to Chapters – I have classics to read.
By the way, the soccer game ended in a tie of 3 to 3. The bubble machine [Marcello] only produced the bubble victory celebration 3 times as he was rooting for his brother’s team and they scored 3 well fought for goals. Learning how to do the piercing victory whistle with your fingers will take more practice for Marcello [he is still learning how to position his tongue properly and then we can add the fingers] – next will be teaching his brother Matteo. Zia – that’s me is first going to read War and Peace – maybe just the 64 page version to see what we are getting into here but may want to brush up on the longer version of the book before the 5 year old gets into the real version and I’m thinking my sister in law will be taking that massive book off the shelf as well.
All in all – a great day at the park watching a fabulous soccer game, learning about Leo and life in the knowledge lane of a 5 year old.