The courageous concept might have been best addressed by British statesman and historical pillar, Sir Winston Churchill, in his commencement address to the graduating class of Harrow School on October 29, 1941:
“Never give in, never give in, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.”
Those might be the greatest exceptions, indeed.
And for all the glorious phrases, the delightfully lyrical strings of bolstering, commanding words and the theoretical questions with the stronghold answers of this political powerhouse, the crux of the speech’s message can be summed up in one quality, one adjective, one “way-to-be” in the face of whatever hand life deals. It is less dramatic and carries less flair, but it’s a fantastic word, nonetheless:
There’s your word for today, straight from the instructions of Sir Winston Churchill, himself… and one soft and furry black dog. (Click here for more vocabulary from Otis Goes to School.)
Of course not. No, I am not comparing the rollicking adventures and narrow escapes of the loving and lovable Otis to the tumultuous encounters of Churchill and his contemporaries. But truly, no one explains the meaning of the word, TENACIOUS, better than Churchill. (For the record, I think Churchill would really like the gumption and moxie of our Otis.)
With respect to Otis Goes to School, the word “tenacious” is found in Chapter 10, “The Playground,” when Otis investigates the goings-on of kindergarten kings and queens, merry maids and pirates.
“Children hid behind Oak tree trunks and appeared again as a burst of energy in a race to make it to the day’s designated home base, safe from tenacious taggers.”
These are taggers who don’t give up! Reading further, you’ll find these “boisterous boys… chasing imaginary bad guys with convincing hoots and hollers and curved stick-pistols…”
When kids play tag, they absolutely do seem tenacious. They put their heart into the game, full force, top speed, no-holds-barred. They do not give up. They do not give in, but for conviction (when it might not be fair–such as, when playing tag with a younger sibling), good sense (when mom says stop, or the teacher confiscates the stick-pistol, as in Chapter 10)… or if they tag their target!
I think this word is an absolutely perfect word. It even makes the speaker growl a bit when the word is spoken, perhaps gritting one’s teeth when sounding out those lush syllables of the word.
Let us be tenacious in things worth doing.
My precious grandaddy always said, “If you are going to do a thing, do it right, do it well, do your best.” That’s being tenacious.
Otis did not give up in finding a forever family when his former owners had the pound in their plans. He might not know it, but he was tenacious.
Yours Truly has knocked on many a proverbial door (and some literal ones, too!) to get this book in the hands of someone who could take it to children around the world. I’ve heard “no,” or “not at this time.” I’ve heard silence as a gaping response, my least favorite, actually. But by the grace of God and a boatload of tenacity–those grand moments of being tenacious–Otis Goes to School is really going places! Good places, like the Alabama Book Festival last spring and bookstores like Landmark Booksellers and Parnassus Books.
And upcoming in October, 2014, Otis Goes to School is appearing at our most exciting break yet. We will share details as they become available… but you can head on over to our Facebook page for a less-than-subtle hint! (And “like” us while you’re there!)
One thing worth doing, doing well and with all our might: introducing children to their own imaginations, and to the power of beautiful, sensational words to describe their explorations therein. What would Churchill think of that? Why, he would most certainly agree, for in the same speech of 1941, he declared, “…without imagination not much can be done.” Of course, he was specifically referring to the imaginations of the people of his day who would lift the world from its own peril in the battle-ridden years which then lay before him and this class of graduates on the brink of their lives. (You can read this famous speech in its entirety, and learn all about Sir Churchill by visiting the website, www.winstonchurchill.org.)
But the sentiment remains, and is worth pursuing, today and always. BE TENACIOUS.