Tuesday, May 20, 2014

When Lions Roar

Can we control our feelings? Our perceptions? Does how we feel affect what happens in the world?

When Lions Roar, a simple picture book by Robie Harris, depicts how scary the world can feel when "lions roar," "thunder booms," "big dogs bark," "mommies holler," and so on. The child in the story responds, "I sit right down, shut my eyes tight. 'Go away,' I say. 'Scary! Go away.'"

Then, the story goes on, it's quiet again, with the wind still and the sun out. "The scary is gone."

What makes some things scary? Are there different levels of scariness? If something is scary, does that mean we are scared of it? Can we control whether something scares us? Is it possible for our actions to get rid of something that we find scary?

Especially (but certainly not only) for young children, it can be empowering to talk about what makes something scary and the many different ways we can react to what feels scary to us. Is what is scary in the thing or in us?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Soap! Soap! Don't Forget the Soap!

Soap! Soap! Don't Forget the Soap! is an Appalachian folktale, brought to life in a great read-aloud picture book by Tom Birdseye with illustrations by Andrew Glass. The story's main character, Pug, is a young boy "with such a poor memory some say he'd forget his own name."

One day Pug's mother, who believes in him despite constant evidence of his forgetfulness, sends him out to the store for some soap.

But Pug quickly forgets why he is going where he is going.

After a series of misunderstandings with various members of the community, all of which are brought on by Pug inadvertently offending each person, resulting in a series of mishaps, Pug brings the soap home to his mother. Apparently transformed by the challenges of the day, from then on Pug "never forgot a thing his mama told him . . . not ever again . . . for the rest of his life."

Why do we remember what we remember? Is remembering a choice? Do we choose to forget what we don't remember? Can you forget your own name? If you forget all your memories, are you still you? What makes someone "forgetful?" Is it possible never to forget a thing we are told?