Mr. Goat blocked the road and now it is difficult to get past; Miss Vixen picked all the raspberries and did not leave a single one; why? Depends on who you ask. This story suggests that "maybe, possibly, perhaps" there is a good explanation for everything, people should be given the benefit of the doubt, and an optimistic outlook adopted.
"Judge everyone favorably" (Ethics of the Fathers, 1:6)
In Hebrew, הווי דן את כל האדם לכף זכות, meaning we should all judge others favorably, literally translates as "weighing others on the scales of merit". In Ethics of the Fathers, our Rabbis teach us to think of others in a positive way, and look for the good in everyone.
Of all the animals, it is the prickly porcupine who looks upon others with kindness. This book suggests that we refrain from being hastily judgmental and instead wait a moment, open our eyes and hearts, and find the good in every person's actions.
Enjoy reading and discussing this book together!
Proposed Family Activities:
- You may want to pause as you read and ask your child: Where do you think the cat is rushing off to? Why is Mr. Goat blocking the way? Will the vixen eat all the raspberries that she has picked herself?
- Perhaps you would enjoy taking a look at the illustrations in this book together: Have you noticed Duck's and Porcupine's special eyebrows? Can you discern who is angry and upset, and who is happy and relaxed judging by their eyebrows alone? You may want to sit one opposite the other and take turns to cover your face, leaving nothing but your eyebrows visible. Now, pull a face – happy, surprised, angry, or sad – and ask the other to guess which emotion you were trying to express by your eyebrows alone.
- You could make a finger theater using eyeliners and lipsticks: draw needles on the back of your finger, and a nose and mouth on the front – and you have got yourself a porcupine; paint the thumb and forefinger of your other hand red with some lipstick, so that their tips form a bill – and you have got yourself a duck. Use both hands to perform a show based on this book. Which hand is quick to judge? Which hand gives others the benefit of the doubt?
- Perhaps you could share a story with your child about a time when, like the duck in this book, you were quick to jump to conclusions about others' actions. When something unpleasant happens, we can try to adopt the "porcupine" approach, and repeat the phrase "maybe, possibly, perhaps" together.