The star of Mara Bergman’s Lively Elizabeth! is a little girl who loves to kick, stomp, tease, and shout. As depicted in the charming illustrations by Cassia Thomas, Elizabeth—eccentrically dressed in a tutu over shorts, and goggles over a striped cap—is a whirlwind of activity. One morning, while in line at school, she does something that she knows is a definite no-no. She pushes an innocent boy in front of her. That in turn causes a domino effect in the classroom: “Crash! Bash! Ouch! Smash!” Books, sports equipment, and musical instruments go flying everywhere as one kid after another takes a tumble. Wearing fun costumes (maybe it’s dress-up day at school), the children glare and shake their fists. Until finally, Joe Fitzhugh, the boy who had been standing in front of Elizabeth, turns to her and yells, “‘What have you done? You pushed me and hurt everyone!’” All ends well, however, when Elizabeth, chastened and scared, realizes the consequences of her actions and apologizes. Quick as a flash, the mood shifts; the children accept her apology and they all run outside to play. This happens without the appearance or intervention of adults. Through lively rhymes and equally lively illustrations, lessons are learned and transgressions are forgiven.
In Solomon Crocodile, by Catherine Rayner, the protagonist is a young reptilian prankster, who likes to stir up trouble among the other critters by the banks of the river. He “splats and slops through the mud to make the frogs jump;” he “shakes the bulrushes and bugs the dragonflies.” The other animals are annoyed and call him everything from a pest and a nuisance to a pain. Then, Solomon, the young croc, foolishly decides it’ll be fun to charge the biggest hippo in the river. The picture of Solomon looking shocked and terrified when confronted by the angry hippo as he roars: “‘Go away! You’re nothing but trouble!’” is hilarious. Feeling lonely and dejected, Solomon lies in a funk until he hears a mysterious creature creating a disturbance in the jungle. Who could it be? The happy ending reveals another croc—equally mischievous and rambunctious. Solomon may be annoying and aggravating to others, but he’s not the only one—and now he has a friend to make “double trouble” with! Here, there are no lesson learned, no social skills presented, but energetic kids, who sometimes feel misunderstood and alone, will find comfort in this entertaining tale.
Can you think of other books that feature children who are misunderstood for being too energetic and boisterous?
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