Peter Holowitz’s Scribbleville tells the story of what happens when a straight-line man moves into Scribbleville, a town where everyone and everything is scribbled. The straight-line man doesn’t seem to notice that he is different, but the townspeople certainly do. Only one woman befriends the new stranger, explaining, "on the outside he’s odd, but that’s not where I look." The town’s suspicions begin to disperse the day a child draws a beautiful picture incorporating both scribbles and straight lines.
This book provides an engaging and novel way of teaching that diversity can enrich our lives if we don’t shut others out just because they are different. I don’t know how well my children understood the “diversity can be good” message, but they enjoyed the story and the illustrations.
In For Pete’s Sake by Ellen Stoll Walsh, the flamingoes are fine with Pete the alligator being different and it’s Pete who has to learn that different is okay. I like the way the flamingoes try to cheer Pete up and point out benefits of some of Pete’s differences. The book shows Pete missing out on good times because he is worrying about being different; it also shows him setting his worries aside temporarily in order to enjoy life in the present. As is commonly the case in real life, Pete is only able to accept his differences after running into some other flamingoes (alligators) who are just like him. Pete stays with his flamingo friends but is comforted by the knowledge that there are others who are like him.
As with Scribbleville, I’m not sure how much of the message my children understood, but they enjoyed the story and illustrations. We borrowed this book from our library after seeing this review by the Infant Bibliophile, and were not disappointed.
We read the board book version of Owen & Mzee: Best Friends (read about the full-length version of this book here). We all enjoyed this true story of an old turtle and a baby hippopotamus who are best friends. The simplified board book text was just right for my verbosity averse children. The photographs tell half the story. You can clearly tell by looking at the pictures just how much these two animals care for each other even if the focus and lighting is less than ideal.
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