I’ve been learning more Americanese. For instance “prompt” is the word used here to mean “essay question.” My students asked for a prompt and I had no idea what they meant. Maybe some doughnuts? That always prompts me. But, no, couldn’t be, because there aren’t any doughnuts in this state – oh, yes, a few stale round things with icing on, but no doughnuts. And I’ve been learning more things Californians don’t know. The other day I happened to use the word “cellar” in a sentence, and a colleague exploded into an extended piece of mockery comparing me to Dorothy of Kansas. Seriously, people from So Cal associate cellars with the Wizard of Oz. It’s never crossed their minds that lots of real people actually have these things. (They’re not allowed, because of the earthquakes.) And then Z came home and told me he’d used the phrase “in the bush” and drawn blank looks. You’d think they could figure that one out from context, but apparently not. We are strangers in a strange land. On a brighter note, though, and speaking of “in the bush” and strangers and all that, I’ve just read Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet. What a fine novel. Not all that well written, but not badly written either, and anyway who cares? It does its job, which is all in the bush. It reminds me that there might be piles of excellent children’s books that I don’t know about because they were published in the 1980s or after.