Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Contrast in Character

First Son loves this book. I guess I shouldn't be surprised to discover a four year old boy loves a book about a cockroach, leaf-cutter ants and a horde of army ants. There are some notes at the end that give startling insights into their little insect lives. For example, leaf-cutter ants do not eat leaves; they carry them home, chop them into tiny bits and grow fungus on them. They subsist solely on the fungus. Fascinating!

From the beginning, I didn't like the story very much myself and I've finally settled on one line that just rubs me the wrong way: "Now that his wing no longer hurt, he could think clearly." Apparently, you see, all his grumpiness and bullying should be attributed to his painful wing. I suppose it could be taken as an example of how we should consider the hidden pains or fears that prompt uncivil behavior. What a better example it could be if the cockroach behaved with greater concern for his fellow insects because of his pain! While he redeems himself before the end of the story, I would have even preferred a plot that presented his redemption before his wing was healed.

It's a fine book for us to read from the library, but I decided against adding it to the list of books we'd like to own. Not so for this next one:

I loved this book from the very beginning and am thrilled First Son is loving it, too. (First Daughter also likes to roar as she points to the lion on every page.) The overt moral is that sometimes rules can be broken for good reasons (like roaring in the library when someone is in trouble and needs help), but what I really love is the friendship and sacrifice the story reveals. The lion sacrifices his visits to the library by breaking the rules for a friend. One of the librarians sacrifices his own feelings and an evening searching in the rain to reunite the lion with the library and everyone who misses him.

The illustrations are also lovely. The lion is realistic, but lovable, if you can believe it. Borrow it, buy it, read it, enjoy it!


  1. We'll have to check that out. Thanks! We're always open to book suggestions.
    I've been pouring over the Scholastic book order form that Amanda got from school (they're six pages long now!) - I'm so excited to be able to buy some of the good books they offer at such great prices! I need to be careful not to go overboard.

  2. I was thinking of you yesterday when I signed up for an e-newsletter from our library on new children's books and children's books illustrators. I remembered you said it was hard to find good new books and I thought these newsletters might be a good place to start. Your library might have something like it, or I could send you the link for ours since you don't have to have a card to get the newsletter. (I checked with you in mind.)

    I love those Scholastic order forms, too. If I didn't have money set aside to order, I had to throw them in the recycling without reading them or I found myself raiding another budget category!

  3. That would be great. Our library system doesn't really offer anything like that (that I've been able to find.) The newsletter they put out is more about what's going on at all the different branches and special activities. Will you send me the link, please?

  4. I'll email you with it right now (before I get distracted and forget).


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