Twilight is descending with all of its mystery and silence and purple shadows. A donkey stands wistfully along a fence line looking longingly at fallen apples seemingly so very far, far, far out of reach and the hope of sampling. It's autumn and the leaves are creating gorgeous piles of brown and gold as they drift over the distant, beckoning apples. Here under a pile of old leaves we meet Isaac, a winsome hedgehog, who speaks to no one, needs no one and has everything he needs in the world.
There's the set up. Isaac with all of his prickly parts both physical and emotional perhaps, is the proverbial island unto himself just as some of our children seem to be these days. I have had a steady stream of parents coming into the library in the past six months asking me for help in building their children's emotional intelligence. These attuned parents have observed their son or daughter's lack of empathy and understanding of what it's like to see something from someone else's point of view.
The parents are looking for books, of course, that will demonstrate through story, how keenly essential it is for us all to be able to stand in each other's shoes and think from the other point of view and above all to know that we need to care about each other.
The illustrations are warm and imbued with that special magic a handful of children's gifted artists can create. They offer up a world that is filled with light and joy and goodness. Our new friends, the donkey and the hedgehog, are entirely lovable with their imperfections and their perfections packaged in adorable expressions and body language.
This story is humorous and thought-provoking. When the hedgehog suddenly finds himself with an apple stuck to his back, he struggles to get it off until a very large nose appears from on high and the sound of a miraculous "Crunch" is heard.
Watching the hedgehog work to get that apple off before he is rescued will send children into gales of giggles.
After the story is told and another twilight descends with a different reality created, there is a tremendous opportunity to talk about helping one another and to talk about thinking about how the other person feels. What's different about this story is that the steps of the process of having empathy for another person or donkey are carefully laid out page by page. It's all presented to us and we can just go back and ask the sequential questions of the children.
It's a great book. 32 pages Ages 4-8 978-1843651987
Recommended by: Barb