originally published June 4, 2010
Did You Carry the Flag Today, Charlie?, by Rebecca Caudill, illustrated by Nancy Grossman
“At school, Charley, you don’t wash your hands in a washpan,” explained Mary. “There’s a big white bowl fastened to the wall in every room. You turn a knob in the middle of it, and out squirts water into the bowl. That’s where you wash your hands.” “Aw!” Charley grinned. “I don’t believe that. Water squirting out of the wall!” “Wait and see!” said Mary.
Charley Cornett is four-a-goin’-on-five and lives high up in the Appalachian mountains. Charley is a curious boy, always wondering – wondering if a rock likes the feel of the rain washing it clean of dust, wondering where the water starts that forms all the licks and creeks flowing down his mountain, wondering how apples are attached to tree branches.
Then Miss Amburgey drives up in her jeep and invites Charley to Little School – six weeks of school at Racoon Hollow for 4-and-5 year olds. Charley’s brothers and sisters make sure Charley knows that things are done differently at school. For example, you can’t lick the top of the salt shaker. And water comes squirting out of the wall. And, at the end of every school day, Miss Amburgey chooses one child who has been especially good and helpful that day to carry a flag and lead the line out to the bus. As Charley comes home from school each day, the family wants to know, did you carry the flag today, Charley? But since curiosity leads to water spraying all over the schoolroom, or to missing the bus in order to finish a yellowblackpink modeling clay snake, or hopping out in the rain when you aren’t supposed to hop out in the rain …the answer is invariably, Nope. Until one very, very happy day.
Did You Carry the Flag Today Charley? is one of the dearest books I own. I love Charley. I love the way he thinks and wonders. I love the Little School teachers who gently work with Charley’s individuality while seeking to open up to him the magic of books and reading and all the possibilities life holds for him. Rebecca Caudill was a brilliant writer, born in a coal-mining region of Kentucky, who captures the spirit of Appalachia beautifully in many of her books.
This is a great read-aloud for young children, or a perfect first chapter-book to hand to a beyond-easy-readers child.
Here’s an Amazon link:Did You Carry The Flag Today, Charley?