Z-Baby has been listening to the audiobook CD version of Kate DiCamillo’s award-winning book about India Opal Buloni, her smiling dog, and her preacher daddy all week long. The narration by Cherry Jones is great, with a thick Southern accent and different voices for all the characters.
Me: What made you laugh in this book? Why?
Z-baby: Well, what was kind of funny was that her dad called her by her middle name, Opal, which was her dad’s mom’s name. And it’s the same with me. I have my dad’s mom’s name for a middle name. And she called the Dewberry boys “bald-headed babies,” and that was kind of funny.
Me: Why do you think Opal wanted to know ten things about her mother? Can you tell what her mother is like from the ten things her father describes to her? Do you think that ten things can really describe a whole person?
Z-baby: Not really. If Daddy told me things about you and I had never seen you, I probably wouldn’t really know what you were like. But she probably wanted to know because most people want to know about their own mom.
Me: What else might Opal want to know about her mother? What else would you like to know?
Z-baby: She would want to know where her mom is and why did she go away. I would, too. Also, what color were her eyes? And was she a girly-girl or a tomboy? I would want to know a lot of things.
Me: Do you think you’d like to eat a Littmus Lozenge? Why or why not?
Z-baby: I don’t know. Probably, because I’d like to see what they mean by it makes them feel sad.
Me: Opal believes that life is like a Littmus Lozenge – that it’s sweet and sad all mixed up together and hard to separate out. Do you agree? Why or why not?
Z-baby: No, I don’t believe that. Life isn’t always sweet, and life isn’t always sad. And I’ve never experienced sweet and sad mixed together.
Me: At the end of the story, Opal seems to accept that her mother is not coming back. Why is this an important part of the story? What is something difficult in your life that you’ve had to accept?
Z-baby: A lot of times when somebody doesn’t have somebody and then they want that person, in the story they do get the person back. But it’s important that you listen and know that Opal’s mom isn’t coming back. Sometimes I ask my brothers or sisters to please do something for me, but they don’t. And I just have to accept that they’re not going to do it.
Me; Who was your favorite of Opal’s friends?
Z-baby: Probably Sweetie Pie Thomas. She’s five years old, and she invites Opal to her sixth birthday party. When Opal comes out of the pet store, she sees Sweetie Pie, and they talk about things.
Me: What kind of people do you think would enjoy this story?
Z-baby: The reason I listen to my audiotapes over and over again is that sometimes there’s something in it that I don’t understand the first time. But then when I listen again, I do understand. And people who like to listen to stories over and over would like this story because there’s always more interesting stuff there to hear.