Here’s a very simple picture book with a poignant message that can be appreciated by readers of any age. It’s brilliant!
Told in just 7 sentences it is the quintessential story of “what might have been.” It will touch your heart and inspire you to reach out to others!
Mr. Duck and Mr. Rabbit are neighbors.
Every day they pass––yet never once does either of them notice the other, let alone smile or say hello.
Day after day, season after season, good weather or bad, happy mood or sad, the two pass without so much as a word or a glance; each lost in his own thoughts.
We witness them…
always passing––right by.
Being that this is a picture book housed on the “Easy” shelf of the library or bookstore, you might predict that the story ends happily for Mr. Duck and Mr. Rabbit.But you’d be wrong. The two glum looking animals never take advantage of their many opportunities to connect.
Yet, sad as the story is for the main characters, there is an uplifting alternate ending for the reader. Through a series of illustrations the author leads us to imagine a happier ending––one in which Mr. Duck and Mr. Rabbit form a friendship. She leaves us with the thought, “What a difference one little word [can] make.”
For older readers, the book prompts immediate self-reflection: “How many friendship opportunities have I lost simply because I didn’t take the initiative to strike up a conversation with someone right on my own doorstep?” For younger children, the adult will likely have to initiate further talk to help them understand the author’s message:
- Why do you think Mr. Duck and Mr. Rabbit never talked to one another, even though they lived nearby and passed shoulders every single day?
- How could their lives have been different if they had connected?
- What do you think the author is trying to tell us with this story?
- Have you ever met a new friend simply by deciding to say hello?
- Do you see any connections between this story and our school playground?
- Why do you think the author wanted to write this book?
For students of any age, this book can lead into a fabulous DWS discussion of Level D. One descriptor for Level D is the idea that people operating on this highest level of development take initiative in life. They’re leaders. They don’t wait for others to direct them––they take responsibility for directing themselves! This book could set the scene for adding “Shows initiative” as a descriptor to the basic Hierarchy chart. My personal experience is that when I add information to the chart––describing yet another facet of internal motivation––students become interested in trying new traits on for size!
Friendship is always a topic for conversation and lessons in an elementary school setting, especially as each new school year begins. So Close by Natalia Colombo would certainly be a great book to include in any such discussions!