Friday, September 2, 2016

Stuff and Friendship

Picture Book: More
Author: I. C. Springman
Illustrator: Brian Lies
Summary: The key character in this fable of few words, is a magpie who collects stuff, lots of stuff, nests and nests of stuff! His mice friends give him the first object, a beautiful marble, 
but then they begin to comment on is hoarding. 
What on the surface is a story teaching collective adjectives (less, more, enough…) becomes a lesson in the consequences of having at first, 
"Lots" and then "Plenty,"
“A bit much”  
and then “Way too much.”
Then there's a kind of community intervention. 
After the collapse of a limb under too much weight, 
the mice, and a squirrel friend, take away item after item from the nests 
and help the magpie be contented with a few treasured items. 
The number of words is few. The illustrations are many and detailed. And the messages are clear: Too much is a problem. Friends can help with that.
Hanna’s Comments: I love Springman’s bio in the back in which she describes herself as a “small-house person living in a McMansion-loving world.” She wrote this book for her grandsons hoping that “one day there will be enough for all.” That’s a PBT message for sure! Help your audience see the changes in expressions of the magpie and mice as the amount of stuff changes. Also, help them see the detailed illustrations, but don’t allow them to get too caught up in the treasures. The point of this book is that gluttony is a distraction and a problem. Explain that gluttony, one of the deadly sins according to Roman Catholic tradition, isn’t limited to the realm of food. It is overconsumption of anything. I personally struggle with gluttony and view it as a key issue in my spiritual development. My hunch is that many in your faith community, particularly if you’re American, have similar struggles, even your children. If you struggle with this, pray about sharing your struggles. Friendship is a key part of this story. Considering the amount of stuff (or assets) in our bedrooms/playrooms (for children), homes or places of worship (for adults) as spiritual questions would be valuable conversations to have in a faith context.
Original Publisher & Date: Houghton Mifflin, 2012 
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections:  The wilderness lesson of hoarding manna (Exodus 16); be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters (Proverbs 23:20); where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matthew 6:21/Luke 12:34); do not lay up for yourselves treasures on Earth (Matthew 6:19); I will not be enslaved by anything (1 Corinthians 6:12)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of children or adults when discussing the spiritual issue of gluttony or the spiritual practice of simplicity.