A Lexicographer, Aged Seven

Tita, by Marie Houzelle, (Summertime Publications Inc.), 312 pages, published September 15, 2014

Marie Houzelle’s Tita is one of those delightful books that presents a child’s view of the world in a way that is both highly entertaining and deeply convincing. Tita is seven. She thinks deeply and is outspoken, which makes her a rather challenging pupil at the small Catholic school she attends. Tita’s favorite reading materials are dictionaries, grammars, and books on word origins. In fact, she knows more about these topics than her teacher does. When her teacher incorrectly tells Tita she’s misspelled a word, Tita refuses to accept the teacher’s authority: “if Pius XII himself told me I’d made a spelling mistake and I had the Robert, my favorite dictionary, on my side, the Robert would win. The Pope can decide that the Assumption of the Virgin Mary will be dogma, but he is not infallible as far as spelling is concerned.”

There isn’t much of a story arc to this novel, but it doesn’t really need one. Just Getting to listen to Tita as she watches the world around her is reward enough.

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