Pirates vs. Cowboys brought some old fashioned fun to the speech room this week. My students have been in love with Aaron Reynolds’ storytelling talents ever since I read his book Creepy Carrots last October. This latest book has further established his place in their hearts. And the kids loved David Barneda’s engaging illustrations, especially the expressive pirate crab and cowboy cactus.
When Burnt Beard, the Pirate, swaggered into Old Cheyenne, the pirate-cowboy showdown began (and so did the student-giggles.) The kids had a hard time deciphering what those rascally pirates and cantankerous cowboys were trying to say to one another. It was no wonder that cowboy Black Bob McKraw didn’t realize he was not being insulted when Burnt Beard said,
“Ahoy there, me hearties! Be ye knowin’ where we’d be findin’ a fair scrub and a swish?”
Black Bob rode up real close to Burnt Beard. “What’d you call us, ya yellow-bellied varmints?” was Black Bob’s reply. “Why don’t ya mangy hornswogglers beat a trail of dust right back out of Old Cheyenne!”
My students couldn’t figure out what those colorful characters were trying to say but they laughed at the sound of these words and then took a guess at their meaning. We had a nice conversation about communication and the importance of the words we use. When I read,
None of them cowboys spoke Pirate, and none of them pirates spoke Cowboy! And that’s a recipe for trouble.
Joden called out, “None of those cowboys.” And after listening to,
“You rootin’-tootin’ critters better head fer the hills, or yer gonna get horsewhipped and hogtied like there’s no tomorrow!”
Haley said, “That means get out pirates!”
This story may not model appropriate grammar or typical vocabulary but it inspired my students to notice both and it opened a good discussion on communication. It also inspired some creative endeavors. In a kindergarten group, one student dictated his own story, full of thieving pirates, stolen animals, and a treasure – one puppy, bright gold, the color of a gold-covered chocolate coin.
I asked a group of first grade students to replace “pirates” and “cowboys” with different characters and we had an enthusiastic brainstorming session. Before long, they began creating their own stories. Zayd told a tale of Ninja vs. Robots, Madisyn started one about Ballerinas vs. Fairies, and Joden (ever the comedian) began a tale of a Dog-person vs. Cheetah – “a big one doing the happy dance.” I’m curious to see how that one comes out. Actually, I’m curious to see how they all come out; they are off to a good start. I feel privileged to see such creative minds at work and to have the opportunity to introduce them to a good story, like Aaron Reynolds, Pirates vs. Cowboys.