- Boy Hook
- Character Development
- Fantasy Writing
- Grades 3-5
- Grades PreK-2
- Graphic Novel
- HIstorical Fiction
- Informational Writing
- Inspiring Writers
- Narrative Writing
- Opinion Writing
- Personal Narrative
- Procedural Writing
- Realistic Fiction
- Search for and Use Information
- Small Moment
- Strong Endings
- Strong Female
- Strong Lead
Saturday, May 16, 2015
By Jon J Muth
Awards: Book Sense Book of the Year finalist
Beautiful, powerful message in this beautiful, powerful book by Jon J Muth
Nikolai, a young boy who wants to be a good person, is seeking the answers to three simple, yet complex questions:
When is the best time to do things?
Who is the most important one?
What is the right thing to do?
He begins by asking his friends: the heron, the monkey and the dog. He gets responses that are typical for their point of view. For example, for the answer to the last question (What is the right thing to do?), the heron responds: Flying; the monkey responds: Having fun; and the dog responds: Fighting.
None of these answers feel right to Nikolai, so he seeks out the advice of his friend, Leo the wise, old Turtle. But before Leo could answer, Nikolai can see that Leo needs help digging his garden, so Nikolai starts helping Leo immediately. As Nikolai is finishing up with the garden, he hears a cry for help in the forest. It is a panda who had gotten injured. Nikolai goes immediately to help the panda, carrying her to Leo’s house to recover. When the panda recovers, she asks about the whereabouts of her baby. Nikolai goes out immediately again, braves a storm, and finds the panda baby. He unites the baby and mother panda.
The next day, Nikolai feels peace inside of him, but is still pondering the answers to his pressing questions.
Leo explains, to Nikolai’s surprise, that his unselfish actions from the day before beautifully answered the questions.
Eloquent lines from the story:
“Remember then that there is only one important time, and that time is now. The most important one is always the one you are with. The most important thing is to do good for the one who is standing at your side. For these, my dear boy, are the answers to what is most important in this world.”
Jon Muth’s illustrations are breathtaking and deepens the message of the story. He provides an explanation at the end of the book that the title and story idea is an adaption of a short story by Leo Tolstoy.
Reading Workshop strategies: Questioning, Synthesizing
Writing Workshop genre: Small Moment, Strong Lead, Elaboration
Curricular Themes: LIfeskills, Building Class Community
Information about Jon J Muth: http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/contributor/jon-j-muth