Five carefully themed stories present slavish adherence to plans, foolish impatience with Nature, the nature of will power, integrity in bravery, and loss of friends through one-up-man-ship.
Each of the five stories in this little anthology present a point about the vagaries of individual behavior that a child can understand. Frog and/or Toad each make some wrongful judgment that leads to a smarter understanding. Parents can ask their children what that approach might be. The stories do not raise much tension, yet they are still interesting in a way that Winnie the Pooh is not.
Franklin boasts a lie, and learns that true self-esteem and integrity require a focus on genuine abilities.
Franklin seeks borrowed self-esteem by making a boast to his friends that he cannot keep. Realizing his error, he resolves not to make such boasts again. Wanting to recover his own respect, and that of his friends, he comes up with an interesting solution. The story focuses on a theme of honesty and of making the best of a bad situation, rather than on the deeper error of seeking self-esteem through the approval of others. Parental guidance might bring out the latter.
A remake of the rhyme "No more Monkeys Jumping on the Bed", that puts a young boy in charge of his monsters.
Tedd Arnold's positive perspective wins again. Conspiratorial humor is a great way to prevent or undo irrational fears: monsters are jumping on the bed, and one by one they bump their head. After five calls to the doctor, our little boy shouts, "NO MORE MONSTERS JUMPING ON THE BED." Children are shown that by refusing to take them seriously the monsters can be banished. The monsters are amusing too.
Caillou learns the difference between his imaginary fear of a wolf in the attic and reality.
Caillou is afraid there is a wolf in the attic. Dad explores the attic with him, so Caillou can see there is no wolf. When Caillou decides to play in the attic he asks his Dad to stay with him. Unfortunately, we cannot be sure if Caillou is still afraid or if he just wants his Dad to play. Parents could emphasize the latter view, and suggest Caillou is no longer afraid because he knows the truth.
Green Wilma discovers that day-dreaming is fun, but can distract one from realities required for living.
Young Wilma dreams she is a green, froggy human child who goes to school. Suddenly she loses her balance, falls off her log and is nearly eaten by a fish. Another subtle Ted Arnold moral emerges: "When you dream, be careful that you don't fall off the log", but is nearly lost in Wilma's fantasy antics. Parents could help emphasize the need to focus on, and act in, reality.
Playing pirate and princess / is lot's of good fun. /
Will she tidy up that mess / and please her poor Mum?
"Jillian Jiggs" tells us, in very catchy verse, of Jillian and her friend's imaginative and crazy crafts and roles. Kids will be amused that she, in a cute way, drives her mother to distraction. Of course, Mom finally faints in dismay, into Jillian's arms, when Jillian is wearing a little angel costume! The story ends wisely, with Jillian saying,
"You'd better go now, Rachel & Peter.
"See you tomorrow when everything's neater."
Brother and Sister Bear learn the futility of fads, as a result of their compulsive pursuit of a popular stuffed toy.
Stuffed "Beary Bubbies" of all sorts appear in the Bear neighborhood. Brother and Sister spend all their allowance, and do chores to earn more. Prices climb as supplies are snapped up, until even Papa joins in the pursuit. But supply meets demand, and soon Bubbies are given out free, with a gas fill up. The fad fades. What does one do with dozens of Bearie Bubbies but look at them? The Bears learn a lesson in wise collecting: whatever did they accomplish?
Franklin's grumpy mood eases when his father suggests he write to his friend Otter.
Franklin is grumpy. He breaks or loses things and finds no pleasure playing outside. He is even is rude to his mother. Father suggests writing to Otter, who has moved away, and Franklin cheers up. We see that facing the cause of a problem helps solve it. On p15 we see that Franklin knew why he was grumpy. Bourgeois missed a chance to have Franklin introspect, recognize the problem and deal with it himself.
DW realizes, after all sorts of poor behavior, that she cannot reject food before trying it.
D.W. 'discovers' she doesn't like all sorts of foods, with spinach being the worst. She threw a tantrum at a restaurant when she found spinach in her salad, so her parents refused to bring her out to eat. She agreed to behave for Grandma Thora's birthday, and chose quite the surprise dinner! This story makes a small point about narrow judgments —and might be useful for parents of a picky eater.
Enno's dream 'boats' become so large he must act on them.
Farmer Enno dreams of a boat, and when he awakes, a model of it is on his bedroom floor. Each night he dreams of a different boat, and they appear on his bedroom floor, but they get larger. Soon enormous boats are appearing in his fields. This magical story has a wonderful message. Why do the boats get so big? What should Enno do about it?