Two book character Petunias have enchanted me as well. First, there is the dancing bear from Sid Fleischman's The Whipping Boy. Though afraid of her at first, Jemmy learns this bear is simply Betsy's companion, and Petunia rescues him from the grasp of Hold-Your-Nose-Billy and Cutwater.
And this week I introduced a different Petunia to the first and second graders. Petunia, the silly goose in Roger Duvoisin's 1950 picture book, expects to become wise by sleeping and swimming with a book she finds in the meadow. The children peered skeptically at me from the story steps, and their judgment proved correct as Petunia pronounced to Ida the hen that after counting her chicks, she determined that 3 x 3 = 6, and 6 is more than 9, so Ida really has more than the 9 chicks she thought she had. They gasped in horror when Petunia went to get her pliers to remove all of Straw the horse's teeth to cure his toothache, rationalizing that she had no teeth and therein was his problem. And when Petunia decides to learn to read with her mind and heart, they applauded her choice of an alphabet book...and then proceeded to check out Petunia's Treasure, Petunia's Christmas, Petunia, I Love You, and Duvoisin's Veronica books.
My mind, by the way, continues to construct spine label poetry. How is this one for Debra?