Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Three Questions

Written and Illustrated by Jon J. Muth
Published by Scholastic Press
Copyright © 2002

            When is the best time to do things?
            Who is the most important one?
            What is the right thing to do?

In this picture book young Nikolai wants to be a good person, but he feels that he needs the answers to the above questions in order to be good. His friends (a heron, a monkey, and a dog) try to help him but their answers don’t seem satisfactory, so he sets off to talk to Leo the turtle. Leo helps Nikolai to see that he had the answers to the questions all along when he compares it to Nikolai’s selfless actions.

“The Three Questions” is based on a Leo Tolstoy story of the same name. The watercolor illustrations are muted and subtle, yet beautiful. Unlike many picture books where the story plays second fiddle to the pictures, the illustrations in this book serve to accentuate the story. The use of personification in animal characters rather than using humans makes the story more appealing to children and hopefully it will help them understand the goodness that comes from giving of oneself.

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