Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Who Broke the Vase?

When children grow old enough to realize that there might be repercussions from things they’ve done, like, for instance, breaking something, it’s not surprising that they try to find a way out of the trouble that might lie ahead. It can even be humorous to watch their contortions as they attempt to avoid facing the reality of the situation.

Who Broke the Vase? by Jeffrey Turner opens with that simple question. Images of bouncing balls on the end pages give a clue as to how the vase was broken. A young dog plays the title role and immediately conjures up a tale about an elephant who swung his trunk, causing the accident. When he realizes that sounds a bit outlandish, he quickly changes his story to say that a mouse who was inside the vase actually did it. The account changes again and again to blame a wayward crow, a knitting sheep, a hippo, and a nonexistent baby (who didn’t really mean to do it).

The author’s bold, eye-catching black silhouetted illustrations offer the perfect blend of humor and engagement, especially when the dog, knowing he has no other recourse, finally admits to breaking the vase. Mama dog accepts his confession and then they go out to play. Moments later, another ball comes flying through the window, headed straight for another container full of flowers. This time it’s Mama who threw it, and she comes up with her own story about a huge leapfrog-playing grasshopper having caused the damage.

Not only is this book humorous, it can also open the door to conversations about truthfulness and taking responsibility for one’s actions. There is no punishment or time-out when the dog confesses to his role in the incident. He even acknowledges the rather preposterous nature of the excuses he offers, and the issue is resolved. As children enter new territory in the world around them, they need loving, non-judgmental guidance, especially in these kinds of situations. Who Broke the Vase? delivers a simple but effective message, stated at the beginning of the book: "Being truthful is better than being perfect." The laughs along the way are an extra bonus!

Guest post by Bridget W. 

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