Phileas's Fortune

Written by: Agnes de Lestrade

Illustrated by: Valeria Docampo

Before Reading


Phileas uses these simple words to express his feelings for Cybele and teaches use that the power of words lies in their honesty. Before you start reading with your child, take a moment to read the Note To Parents section in the back of the book. It will help you appreciate the story and be better prepared to share its lessons with your child.

Preview and Predict

Talk to your child about what s/he sees in the illustrations and allow him/her to make any initial observations and predictions.

Make Observations.

What do you notice on the cover?

What is Phileas holding?

What do you think he will catch with his net?

Make Predictions.

What do you think will happen in this story?

Activate Prior Knowledge

Talk to your child about what a fortune is. Say that a fortune is usually a lot of money or valuable things. Give him/her some examples of how the word is used like, "______ made a FORTUNE by _______."  Ask your child to predict what Phileas's fortune will be. 

As You Read

Bring your child's attention to the words and letters floating around in the illustrations. Help identify the letters and read the signs to give him/her a better idea of how the people get their words. Say, "If someone can only afford to eat three words, that means they can only say those 3 words, and they can only say them once! That must be really hard."

Vocabulary Building:

Help your child think about what words s/he could make with the floating letters. For example, say "If we found an S floating in the air, what words can we make? What words start with the sssss sound?"

Monitor Comprehension

Ask your child about how Phileas feels throughout the story and help him/her relate to Phileas. Ask "How would you feel if you were in Phileas's place when Oscar says that he loves Cybele? Why would you feel that way?

After Reading

Make Connections

Talk to your child about what happened in the story and ensure comprehension with questions like:

Discuss The Story

Where do the people in Phileas's world get their words?

Why do some people have more words than others?

What did Oscar say to Cybele? What did Phileas say?

Why did Cybele kiss Phileas and not Oscar?

The Lesson

Discuss how Phileas won Cybele's heart by being honest and using his precious words to tell her how he felt. Say, "Even though he didn't have the words to say 'I love you', he used the words he had to tell her how he felt."

Extending the Story

Letter Cookies

Inspired by: Your Child Learns

Supplies for Cookies: 

letter cookie cutters

8 tablespoons of soft butter

2/3 cup of sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 1/2 cup of flour

1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

Supplies for Icing:

2/3 tablespoons of water

1 cup of powdered sugar

food coloring (neon colors)

sprinkles (optional)


Make your own edible letters with your child, and discuss the different feeling words that start with those letters. For example, make an S shaped cookie and say, "Some feeling words that start with the letter S are 'sad' and 'sorry'. You can also use the letters to spell out your child's name and other short words.

Instructions For Making The Cookies

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and stir.
  3. In another bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an egg beater. Add the egg and vanilla to this mixture.
  4. Add the two mixtures together.
  5. Dust a roller and your working surface with flour and roll out the dough.
  6. Use the cookie cutters to make the letters. Gather the scraps and roll them out to make more cookies.
  7. Place the letters on a buttered or no-stick sheet and bake for 8-12 minutes, or until the cookies are golden. Let them cool as you make the icing.

Instructions For Making The Icing

  1. Put 2 tablespoons of almost-boiling water in a cup.
  2. Add the powdered sugar slowly until it is the right consistency (similar to thick paint).
  3. Mix several colors and apply the icing to the cooled cookies with a brush.


Parent's Corner

Talking to your child about emotions will help him/her better understand the feelings that s/he has. Give their feelings names and encourage your child to talk about them. Also, provide alternatives to undesirable actions that are a result of your child being upset. Say, "I know that you are feeling angry because _______. Instead of ________, let's try {saying how we feel, taking a deep breath, doing another activity, walking away, etc}."

Here are some more helpful tips that can encourage your child's own self-expression.