Muzzles, Snouts or Beaks


Yesterday, on the way to music lessons, there was a lively conversation in the car between my six-year old and my nine-year old about whether the word muzzle and snout could be used interchangeably. Ben is a huge reader, and he was saying that a writer will use muzzle instead of snout sometimes, and then other times talk about a snout. At first I thought that it could be a synonym of some sort, but in certain animals it doesn’t work. One wouldn’t call a pig’s snout a muzzle. Then Bean piped in that he believed cows have beaks.

Ben and I tried to convince Bean that cows by no stretch of the imagination have beaks, that those are only for birds, but Bean wasn’t budging.

I remembered seeing a mammal of some sort with a beak, but it was in a movie. It was a scary creature, on the White Witches side of the battle in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. As I was trying to describe it to the boys, it dawned on me that many of the scary creatures of imagination have no noses at all, like Voldemort in the Harry Potter stories, and the ugly Orck in The Hobbit.

We started talking about why scary creatures often have no noses, and decided that it must be because they are representing something from the side of death. A skeleton has no nose. Bean didn’t believe me, he is certain our noses have a bone, but we have a skeleton head from when Ben wanted to be a doctor, and there is most certainly no bone there.

From here, the discussion shifted into the realm of imagination and myth. Ben suggested that maybe if something is only in the mind of one person, like in their own dream or nightmare, it is simply called something imaginary. If the something is known or imagined by a large group of people, or the whole world, it becomes myth – it is something envisioned on a large-scale.

These are the conversations made possible by reading and immersion in fairy tales.


This week I finished one of the best books I can remember reading in a very long time. It was so good, I didn’t want it to end. I wanted to stay in the world of Island Books, the village, their book clubs and reading circles, the families, and the love stories of nerdy literature lovers forever. I slowed my pace way down and savored the book.

Yesterday afternoon, the boys walked in on me as I was finishing the last pages, and crying. I wasn’t sobbing. I had tears running down my face. I couldn’t stop them. Every word of this book was exquisite. “All the right words in all the right places,” – a line from the book. Truly. And the ending perfectly fit the rest of the book, and I was mourning the loss of such beauty.

Bean asked, “Is this the book you didn’t want to finish because it was so good?”

“Yes, Honey, which is why I’m crying. But here I am at the end, and I very much want to see what happens.”

This is one that will stay with me.


It makes me happy that my boys like to read, and are already devouring books on their own. I cherish that we can discuss books and ideas, and bounce thoughts around for fun.


photo from here

The book I was reading: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry (Affiliate link)

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