The Name Game
Elizabeth Laird and Olivia Holden
The little girl narrator of this story is at home and bored without anybody to play with. Suddenly there comes a tap on her window: it’s a bird the name of which she doesn’t know. So she asks and the response is ‘I’m a magpie, darlin’ … ‘ On hearing that this bird is also a jewel thief and receiving an invitation to surprise him with another name, the child suggests Diamond Dodger. From its response she assumes the bird is pleased at this. What follows is a lovely imaginative game wherein the girl thinks up new names for in turn, a tall tree close by. Emerald Queen, that one becomes, followed by a butterfly that lands on the window sill – I wonder what you’d call it –
and a cat with a long swishy tail that thinks herself special.
By this time, the little girl, content in a world of her own creating, is no longer bored: as she ventures outside, she intends to continue her name game.
Cleverly combining the natural world and the power of the imagination Elizabeth Laird’s is a delightful story to share and I have no doubt that young listeners will after hearing it, want to emulate the little girl and create names for things they encounter in nature. Indeed the Name Game could be played with a focus on other settings such as a particular room at home, or in school. The potential is enormous, but most important is that you share the book taking time to enjoy Olivia Holden’s beautifully detailed illustrations of the narrator and her immediate environment.