Thursday, September 16, 2010
I am Special.
Unique is Not Ridiculous
Sometimes feeling different leads to a desire to take on the traits of others. This is the plight of the hippopotamus in You Look Ridiculous, by Bernard Waber. The story begins as the hippo is informed by the rhinoceros that she looks “ridiculous.” She is initially surprised, but when the rhinoceros matter-of-factly points out that she is lacking a horn, she laments her previously unknown fault and sets out to ask the other animals of the jungle if she is indeed ridiculous looking. Each animal she meets points out a trait of its own that she is lacking (the lion’s mane, the elephant’s floppy ears, etc.) and her feelings of inadequacy multiply. Some of the animals say things like, “if you want me to me honest,” or “no harm intended,” but their comments are hard for poor hippo to handle. We used her distraught reaction as a discussion point, and I asked B if hippos were supposed to have things like turtle shells or long necks, which elicited both giggles and good discussion of liking ourselves the way we are. In the end, hippo has a dream that she is transformed to possess each of the unique traits of the other creatures. While she is initially thrilled, her excitement fades when she glances at her reflection and discovers she looks truly ridiculous. She wakes from her dream thankful and happy to be in her own skin.
A Collage Waiting to Happen
We hadn’t even finished You Look Ridiculous before I was formulating a plan for an art project involving the mash-up of animal traits hippo was longing for. While we got to see one illustrator’s version at the end of the story, I still thought B would enjoy the silliness of putting the parts together, so I started my search for animal pictures. In my admittedly brief research, I was most impressed by the selection and variety of printable animal coloring sheets at First School. We printed two hippos: a before and after, or unique and ridiculous versions. I also printed a lion, an elephant, a rhinoceros, a giraffe, a monkey, and a turtle. The hippo in the story also wishes for leopard spots, but we just drew those on.
B cut out the hippo bodies, and I did the cutting of the features from the other animals.
Then B glued the two hippos to a large piece of construction paper and added all the other animals’ features, as well as some color. He thought the mixed up creation was hilarious. He even wanted to show it to T to make him laugh, though I doubt T has absorbed enough about hippos to know there was anything out of the ordinary! We had a lot of fun with our mixed up animal, but we also had some good conversation about how nice she looked just the way she was. We also discussed why some of her features were important to her way of life, like small flat ears she could close underwater. This book and activity made for a very balanced mix of developmental discussion and simple laughs and fun. We had so much fun with the mixed up animal creature, we may print some more animal pages and make some more silly friends!
Appropriate for toddlers, preschool, primary grades.
How do you handle questions about differences with your child? What do you do to affirm their confidence in their individuality? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
Link up your book recommendations for the week below, and please link back to Little Sprout Books. (Consider adding the button!)
Have a great weekend in your special and non-ridiculous way!