cover image Love Your Neighbor: Stories of Values and Virtures

Love Your Neighbor: Stories of Values and Virtures

Arthur Dobrin. Scholastic, $16.95 (64pp) ISBN 978-0-590-04410-3

Dobrin, an educator specializing in ethics, presents a menagerie of critters in stories designed to introduce lessons about friendship, loyalty, honesty and tolerance. Many of these 13 brief tales have a familiar ring. The Kindness of Squirrels, for example, owes a debt to the Talmudic tale of two brothers who secretly bring gifts of food to each others homes; in Boris, Natasha, and the Giant Beet, the author retells the well-known Russian folktale of the smallest family member extracting a giant root vegetable (recent picture book examples are The Giant Carrot; The Gigantic Turnip, etc.). A readers previous knowledge of the tales, however, works in Dobrins favor, since he often digresses from the story line with wordy descriptions, and never attributes the stories to their original sources. His opening A Note to Parents describes these as fables, yet rather than ending with a pithy moral, he closes each tale with a family/group discussion starter (e.g., a story about an overly protective mother bee who insists that her son wear so many outer clothes that he cannot fly, follows with Parents often worry about their children. Why do you think Duncans mother had him wear so many clothes?). Rogerss (Snow Angel) muted watercolors feature an anthropomorphic cast that includes a giraffe sporting a Hawaiian shirt in his garden and cats shopping and talking on the phone. Readers will likely need a spoonful of sugar to make this moral medicine go down. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)