The other day I read a book to Baylor that was new to me. But Not the Hippopotamus is now one of my very favorite children’s stories. However, I am puzzled as to why the author chose to begin the story in this way:
A hog and a frog cavort in the bog. But not the hippopotamus.
Cavort?! Since when is that a kid word?* Not that I’m opposing the use of it by toddlers around the world — it just strikes me as odd. How about:
- A hog and a frog play in the bog.
- A hog and a frog dance in the bog.
- A hog and a frog do a jig in the bog.
But cavort?! We might as well have said:
- A hog and a frog gambol in the bog.
- A hog and a frog carry on with their merrymaking antics in the bog.
- A hog and a frog calculate and pay their federal income taxes in the bog.
Listen, I’ve got nothing against the book — I think it’s great. Sandra Boynton is a brilliant writer. There’s even an awesome plot twist at the end. A surprise ending in a baby book… the woman’s a genius.
But when I want my daughter learning words like cavort,** I’ll sign her up to take the GRE.
* Not that “hippopotamus” is the easiest word in the world…
** But I also have to wonder how often I choose fancy, religious words when a simpler one would do just fine.