Adventures at Walnut Grove: A Lesson About Teasing, is a 32 page, hardcover, picture book, in which a cast of animal characters demonstrate the importance of always treating others the way you would like to be treated.
The book is colorfully illustrated in a child-pleasing way, without being cartoonish. The sweet pictures definitely hold the attention of small children.
The story is set at Walnut Grove resort. School is out and the animals have gathered for some summer fun. Before long, Sammy the Squirrel's feelings are hurt when a newcomer, Bucky the Beaver, calls him a bad name. It is here that the first lesson is presented; Sammy knows it is wrong to tease and although he is quite upset, he does not retaliate.
However, the name-caller soon learns his lesson when he becomes the victim and is teased by someone else. This new knowledge of how it feels to be treated in such a way leads Bucky to apologize.
All is forgiven and the animals vow to tease no more. The story ends with fun and laughter as the friends get back to enjoying summer games and one another's company.
A few interactive questions and a word from the author are found at the end of the book. These help reinforce the lesson learned as children think about how they may have felt under the same circumstances and what they might have done if they had been there.
The book is designed for ages three to ten. Most children in this age group will relate to and enjoy this story on some level.
Adventures at Walnut Grove may be used as a read aloud (with discussion following), or even turned into a mini-unit. A number of suggestions and helpful print outs are available on the author's website: http://lehmanpublishing.com/. These are written with a classroom in mind, but could easily be adapted to a homeschool or co-op environment. Our family printed out the animal characters, colored them, and acted out the story. This was a lot of fun and I am grateful for the suggestion and materials given on the website.
While this is not classic literature, the author does a very good job teaching a strong and direct lesson: teasing hurts others and getting along is easier when the Golden Rule is followed. This makes the book a valuable teaching tool for parents.
The only criticism I have is that Sammy the Squirrel seems to be, well, perfect! He doesn't struggle to do what is right. The book states that he never calls anyone bad names and is always nice to the other animals. I can see why these character traits are included; it is good to have something to strive for and someone to look up to. However, I found this a little over the top.
The part of the story I found to be excellent, was that both animals were teased about things they had little control over: physical looks and ability. This was a very wise choice in my opinion, since it is what we often find in real life. Because the victims could do little to improve these areas, the hurt they felt was very pronounced. The author uses this to teach an important truth: everyone looks different and has different abilities--what truly matters is who they are on the inside. Wouldn't the world be a better place if everyone took note of this?
In conclusion, this book teaches a valuable lesson in a fun manner. It helps children make sense of teasing and comprehend its consequences. Listening to stories is an easy way for many children to learn, and so I feel Adventures
at Walnut Grove is an extremely useful teaching aid; I am glad to have it on my bookshelf.