Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Pet Parables (Vol. 1)

Kids love animals, so what better format to teach kids about biblical behavior than a book of animal stories? That's the premise behind Neta Jackson's Pet Parables (Vol. 1).

This volume contains two stories: "The Cat Who Smelled Like Cabbage" and "The Duck Who Quacked Bubbles." The first begins by quoting Philippians 2:3 ("Be humble and consider other smore important than yourselves..."), then Jackson weaves a surprisingly down to earth and deep story. In it, snobby Siamese Cat and her good natured friend Black Cat chat about the neighborhood. Siamese Cat turns her nose up at the ugly, homeless Alley Cat who tends to linger across the street. She has no real family and no good breeding. But when one of Black Cat's kittens wanders into the street, Alley Cat saves the baby from being run over by a vehicle. Black Cat couldn't be more thankful - and surprised. As she talks with Alley Cat, she find her kind and friendly. And she learns there are good reasons for Alley Cat's mysterious ways. In the end, rather than go for a walk with Siamese Cat, Black Cat shows Alley Cat a better place to keep her own babies, and a new friendship is formed.

The second story begins by quoting Philippians 2:14 - 15 ("Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless den pure..."). Grumble, a very grumpy duckling, complains about everything. Her siblings crowd her in the nest, splash her in the pond, bump into her when they walk, and make her late for everything. When the other ducklings finally tire of Grumble's grumblings, they leave her to play by herself. To "show them," Grumble wanders into a box, thinking to hide until her family gets worried. But the box turns out to be a trailer that gets pulled away by a car. Fortunately, the family in the car hear Grumbles quakes and bring her back home. Grumble discovers her family really did miss her, and she's so thankful to be back home, she vows never to grumble again. Instead, whenever she feels the urge to grumble, she sticks her head under the water and quacks, producing bubbles. Soon, her family renames her Bubbles.

Both stories end with a parental note and questions for discussion, always bringing up God. For example, in the questions for "The Duck," the author writes: "What do you think God wants us to do when we feel like complaining? The next time you feel like complaining, what could you do instead?"

What I Like: Jackson is a strong writer. My 4 year old loves her stories and I find them pleasing to read. "The Cat" struck me as particularly well written for a book targeting this age group. The illustrations by Anne Gavitt are also lovely. Even my 18 month old loves them (he is, admittedly, a huge fan of cats). The cat drawings are realistic and expressive, while the duck pictures have a vintage storybook charm.

What I Dislike: Nothing

Overall Rating: Excellent.

Age Appeal: 4 -8.

Publishing Info: Kregel, 2004; ISBN: 978-0825429385; hard back, $12.99

Buy Now at ChristianBook.com for $9.99

OR buy at Amazon.com for $12.99

Special Info: Read our reviews of books by Neta Jackson.

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