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No! No! No! No!

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We’re working on having our daughter learn Italian. There are times when it is easier to integrate it into her life and times when it is harder. There are moments when she resists it and moments when she loves it. She has consistently really enjoyed Noemi dice no!  (story by Anna Lavatelli and illustrations by Paolo Turini). Even when she doesn’t want to speak Italian or hear it, she’ll happily listen to me read this book to her over and over again. It’s about a little girl whose first word is “No!” She starts saying “no” all the time and that is all she will say. Everyone is worried and tries to get her to say something else. Finally, they discover that she wasn’t saying “no” to everything, but trying to say her name, Noemi. I think my daughter may love it because her name also begins with “no” and she called herself “Nono” for a while (as did people at her daycare and her longest standing, closest friend). Now she alternates between her name and “Nono.” We hadn’t thought of how often one would be saying “no” to a child when we named her (or that “Nono” would be a potential, however temporary, nickname). She used to repeat things she shouldn’t do (burn herself, jump off high things, the basics), by saying “No no, Nono” (which sounded a lot like “no no no no”). It’s completely not confusing. Uh. The book plays with this confusion. It also has colorful pictures on one side and the big text on the other, along with solitary objects that she points to and we talk about in Italian, which is great. I kind of hope she loves it because of the narrative and not just because of the pictures (as arresting as they are), because … well. I’ll let you admire a couple of depictions of Signor Groppo yourself. What was your first word? Your child’s? How many times a day do you think you say “no”?

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