Kid Two suggested I write a children’s book about kitchen homonyms just after I’d made an eyeball-rolling joke about needing to knead that evening’s pizza dough. How cool is that – at 13, he still thinks his mom is interesting and capable! I was quite flattered.

His 8-year old cousin T-Man was in town and needed a refresher course on exactly what a homonym was. He got right on board with the challenge, and three of us got pretty set off with pup on our afternoon beach walk, brainstorming all the way. I should qualify that – excitedly brainstorming – we were having a good time. I texted myself the list as we walked:

Pear – pair – pare
Fare – fair
Mousse – moose
Chili – chilly
Air (this had to do with making meringue!) – heir
Hare – hair
Steak -stake
Butt (as in steak!) – but
Cereal – serial
Beet – beat
Whey – way
Meat – meet
Beech (beech nut) – beach
Knead – need
Leek – leak
Thyme – time
Peaks (meringue again!) – peeks
Flour – flower
Dough – D’oh!
Lean – lean (a true homonym)
Pea – pee (boys, remember!)
Wok – walk
Grate – great
Wine – whine
Two (in measuring) – too – to
Waste – waist
Fowl – foul
Offal – awful (my favorite homophone pair)
Pie – pi
Piece – peace
Cabinet – cabinet

Not bad for 8- and 13- year old boys! Short on plot but long on wordplay opportunities.

As soon as we deemed the list mostly complete, they beat at logs with sticks and wrestled in the sand, as boys are wont to do after too much thinking.

 

I have to say, that afternoon goes a long way in supporting my theory that boy-children do their best thinking while physically active. I honestly believe, if schools swapped treadmills and exercise bikes for boys’ desks, test scores would zoom and drop out rates fall.

 

 

Later I discovered my explanation was technically in error; in linguistics need and knead are homophones, because they only share the same pronunciation. Lean (sloping) and lean (not fat) are the true homonyms by virtue of sharing both spelling and pronunciation.

So how about it? Any illustrators out there want to partner with me to come up with a kids’ book?