The Traveling Dustball
The Traveling Dustball
“Someone has to sweep up the dust bunnies.”
Big Word! Big Word!
Say it: URK-sum
Davey and his dog Abigail are embarking on a series of adventures. Davey creates a giant dustball while cleaning the house. Soon the adventurous duo discovers that the dustball is “a fluffy form of flying.” They travel with their friend, the Sprinkle Fairy, who owns a word factory in Sicily where the “best words in the world come from”. Her helpers (the Sprinklers) “sprinkle into small places.” Whenever readers spot a Sprinkler in the story, they are alerted to a new “big word” coming.
The five stories in The Traveling Dustball present wonderful “big word”. In “The Traveling Dustball”, readers first see the “irksome” dustball which takes Davey and Abigail on an amazing adventure. In “Spaghetti and Meatballs”, they travel to Italy where their dustball gets caught up in a traffic jam causing a “brouhaha”. When Davey suggests that they use the dustball to travel to Hawaii in “The Big Wave”, Abigail is reluctant and engages in “lollygagging”. Davey and Abigail travel all the way to China in “Cloud Tea” to cure Abigail’s tummy “collywobbles” and finally, in “The Stinky Cheese”, the friends discover the “phenomenon” of stinky cheese on their journey to Switzerland.
The Traveling Dustball is the second book in the “Big Words Small Stories” series, the first being The Missing Donut. The language of the text is accessible and interesting. Davey and his dog Abigail are appealing characters that have amusing conversations about many topics, including: creating dustballs, travelling around the world, eating takeout food, vacationing, and having an upset stomach. The Sprinkle Fairy and her helpers, the Sprinklers, indicate to readers that a big word is about to be introduced with the words, “Big Word coming. BIG!” At the bottom of the page, they also provide pronunciation clues, “Say it: URK-sum.” The final section of the book, “A Small Play on Big Words”, reviews and reinforces all the words introduced.
T. L. McBeth’s illustrations are simple but colorful and important to the narrative. Davey and Abigail are vibrant characters who express their emotions through their expressions and actions. Abigail’s feelings are ever-changing from boredom to anger to excitement to terror. The illustrations also introduce readers to some of the characteristics of the countries that the friends visit. In Italy, there is the Leaning Tower of Pisa; in Hawaii, there are palm trees; in China, readers see a pagoda.
The Traveling Dustball allows readers to learn new words through interesting and amusing stories about Davey and his dog Abigail. It also introduces them to new parts of the world. The book can definitely be used as a read-aloud for early emergent readers, and fluent readers can read it themselves. The Traveling Dustball will appeal to young readers learning new words and making the transition to chapter books.
A resident of Toronto, Ontario, Myra Junyk is a literacy advocate and author.