Early in my career, I had a young student named Marie. She had wild, unruly hair and a wildly enthusiastic attitude toward life. Her unguarded enthusiasm often got her into trouble. Her voice was loud and she was always moving. Her big personality wasn’t a good match for her quiet classroom and she often came to the speech room to see if I needed any “help”. I could usually find a job or two to keep her busy. Marie’s teacher welcomed the relief and I welcomed the day-brightener.
Marie is grown now and has left home for college but she will never leave my memory. I think of her often when I meet other wildly enthusiastic children who struggle to keep their bodies and voices within the classroom-acceptable range, and she was the inspiration for my story, Sh! Sh! Marie.
Marie can't seem to keep her voice or body quiet as she twitches and twirls her way through life hearing, "Sh! Sh! Sh!" at every twist and turn. Her irrepressible spirit has her leap through the living room practicing ballet; pound with exuberance on a toy drum (near the neighbor's window); and imitate a baby baboon during story-time at the library. Children will laugh with delight at her antics and relate to the common refrain, "Sh! Sh! Sh!" Their delight will increase at the end of the story when Marie gets to say the final "Sh!"
Speech, language and reading skills are interdependent and children make leaps toward literacy when those skills are taught together. This story, besides providing entertainment, will help children learn the letter combination "sh" and give them practice pronouncing it as they join in the repeated refrain Sh! Sh! Sh!