Friday, February 5, 2010
Friday Book Review: Puck the Gnome
Like so many other families, we love books. Books can literally be found in every single room of our house, even in our bathrooms. One of the best things we did when the girls were toddlers was to get them book bins for each bathroom. They are never sitting idle there, but sounds of them *reading* and making up stories inspired by the picture books can be heard happily throughout the house. We rotate the books in the bins on a regular basis.
So I'd like to begin a special Friday Book Review where we list a favorite book every Friday.
It is only befitting that we commence with the girls very favorite thus far ~ a wonderful book by teacher and master storyteller Jakob Streit called "Puck the Gnome". I've seen the recommended reading age listed as ages 4-10, but I would probably wait until your child is 6+. Puck is a prankster with a good heart, but perhaps it's not the best modeling behavior that our youngest children are most sensitive to. There are also some darker characters (Proll and his Crackzers).
Basically the book is a sweet tale about Puck the Gnome, who has one foot facing forward and one backward and isn't very well accepted by the other gnomes. On his journey, he begins by playing pranks on some not so nice gnomes and this leads him to a wonderful friendship with another odd gnome named Din. Din is a servant to the nasty ego-centered Proll and Puck and Din strike up a very special friendship leading Puck on adventures far and wide.
The book makes several strong statements about friendship, compassion and good versus evil. It encompasses archetypal elements so it speaks strongly to children. One particular highlight is the observations Puck makes while above ground. He is only seen by the youngest children, and those older children who are ill and not fully in their conscious. As Puck observes the love between a mother and child, between two people walking hand in hand, and between those who are good to each other, he sees a rainbow form above them and discovers "how human love shines". He sees a child in prayer and how that child slips into slumber and his spirit circles upwards to the "world of the stars".
Puck also witnesses some bad people and notes the darkness in their hearts and snake-like images twisting around their personage. The book is wonderfully compassionate, revealing how the treatment of animals has been entrusted to the humans and yet we are not honoring that trust. There are a lot of big themes in this book, but Streit is such a master storyteller that he weaves them invisibly into the heart of the book and the child is left with an awareness of how important it is for us to be good to each other, to all creatures, and to our precious earth. It also brings the world of the gnomes to the forefront.
When I asked the girls why they liked the book so much, they both enthusiastically replied, "It's so cute!"
Charley liked the characters in it. "Din is my favorite character!"
Elena replied, "I wish there was a new Puck book!"
So our first Friday book recommendation is for Puck the Gnome by Jakob Streit. This book would definitely appeal to both boys and girls!
Does your child have a favorite book? I'd love to hear about it as we are always on the lookout. Next Friday, we'll be reviewing another wonderful book especially suited for Grade 1/age 6 child...