Children’s books teach us timeless lessons. I am happy that I had the opportunity to read wonderful books to young children. As I journey through life, I often think of certain books. Rosie’s Walk (Rosemary Wells), Rudy the Rude Rooster (Amy Odom Williford) and Abiyoyo (A South African Folktale) are three titles that come to mind.
In Rosie’s Walk, Rosie the hen, takes a walk and is minding her own business. She is unaware of the fox that is trailing her and watching her every move. She goes around a pond and over a meadow and through a field. Children learn new words as they repeat the lines of the story as it is being read. While the fox is following her, he is covered in flour and later chased away by a large swarm of bees. This tickles the children.
I often think of Rosie and how her protectors are there to make sure that she is okay. She was no idea she is being watched and is totally focused on her mission. She never looks behind her as she walks forward. The goats, the frogs and the bees are like her guardian angels. They see the situations and are ever-present. Oblivious to the lurking fox, Rosie is not only safe and sound, but she is never even troubled by the fox’s presence.
Rudy in Rudy the Rude Rooster, is beautiful on the outside but not on the inside. With that information alone, we can all pause. We all know people like Rudy. He wakes the other animals up before they finish sleeping, pushes in line, jumps the line at the library and steps on others’ toes. No one wants to be around him. He finally goes to Greta, the wise goldfish for help. She is honest with Rudy and tells him that he lacks good manners.
He vows to change and actually does so. The book has some Spanish translations to further accent phrases that show appreciation such as ‘you’re welcome’ or ‘de nada’. It reminds us that arrogant and inconsiderate people are ‘turn-offs’ and people can choose not to be in their company. But Rudy’s willingness to change and strive to be better turns him into Rudy the Really Polite Rooster. Self-improvement is always an option.
Abiyoyo (A South African Folk Tale) is a beloved book because of its lyrical message. Pete Seeger sang it and I made up my own song as the children sang and clapped. Abiyoyo is a big foot-type of monster that terrorizes the village. There is also a prankster-father who makes things disappear at the wrong time and his son irritates people with his noisy ukulele. They are put out of the town and camp on the outskirts.
As fate would have it, Abiyoyo shows up scaring everyone around. The father wants to get him to lay down so he can make him disappear with his magic wand. The father and son make up a song about Abiyoyo and the monster starts grinning, and dancing. After some time, he becomes overly excited and falls down and the father uses his magic wand to make him evaporate into thin air. The father is then hailed as a hero and he and his son are invited back to town.
Abiyoyo, like all people and creatures, wants to be celebrated. Abiyoyo is conquered because he is excited about hearing a song using his name. The father and the son showcase their positive qualities when the father uses his magic wand for a helpful purpose and the boy uses his ukulele to make the music for Abiyoyo’s dance.
Simple children’s stories can teach us life lessons such as staying focused while on our missions like Rosie; transforming ourselves into more likeable people like Rudy and using our special gifts to help others like the father and son in Abiyoyo. So many ways to learn!
Lynn December 5, 2014