Dance of the Sugarplum ISBNs

Last Saturday at the literacy workshop we played with Wikki Stix to form letters. Wikki Stix are basically pieces of yarn coated with colored wax. They have endless kids' craft uses, but I hadn't considered the teaching possibilities before. At the workshop we used Wikki Stix to form letters and numbers on a flat surface, then make crayon texture rubbings on paper over the formations. Wikki Stix adhere to the table unlike most texture rubbing craft materials, making it much easier for preschoolers.

The possibilities for creating animation and flip book sequences with the Wikki Stix rubbings really recharged my brain's dry cell battery. What if a marching band of red wiggler worms formed mutating numerals a football halftime show? With the Wikki Stix it was so easy to make incremental changes and produce quick rubbing images.

This Saturday I worked at the library preparing order forms for books, large print materials, and audio books. ISBN numbers danced around in my head like a proofreading nightmare version of "The Nutcracker".

International Standard Book Numbers used to be ten-digit identification codes that had a good beat you could almost dance to or type from memory. Now they are cursed thirteen-digit headaches that identify each individual media format for a particular title. As the day progressed, the ISBN numbers began to wiggle and shimmer, uncurl and travel when I tried to type, like enthused wax-dipped yarn dervishes. If they didn't all begin with 978, I would never have been able to corral them on paper!

The second edition of Mary Appelhof's Worms Eat My Garbage has just one ISBN:

Judith Viorst's new book, Alexander and the Wonderful, Marvelous, Excellent, Terrific Ninety Days, has all these ISBNs for various formats:

Barack Obama's Audacity of Hope has twice that many number assignments. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets has thrice just in English. Form those numbers, my little red wigglers, between the yard markers and the hash marks.

© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder

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