Friday, April 28, 2017

Redux Series #10 - Xander's Panda Party

Picture Book: Xander’s Panda Party 
Author: Linda Sue Park 
Illustrator: Matt Phelan 
Summary: In very clever verse, Park captures the frustrations of planning a party. Xander carefully creates his party invitation, menu, and guest list. As he invites various species of animals at the zoo, he realizes important species are being left out. For instance, Xander begins by inviting other bears. The koala "bear" protests, complaining that being a marsupial, not a bear, means she's not invited. So Xander expands his guest list to include all mammals. At other times, animals who are invited complain, that their cross-species friends can't come. Rhionceros says:
"It may sound 
a bit absurd, 
but I won't come 
without my bird." 
Similar guest list conundrums arise, but Xander's hospitable nature has him expanding the categories of species he will invite. Eventually, all creatures are invited to Xander's party, even the humans at the zoo. 
Hanna’s Comments: Animal taxonomy (how species are organized) is explored throughout this delightful story so your children might learn a little science while hearing about being more inclusive and hospitable. The author also offers a note at the end with some history about animal taxonomies. For these reasons, this book would be a wonderful part of an elementary science lesson on animal classification. Homeschools or private schools could connect this story to The Parable of the Banquet Guests or the spiritual practice of hospitality. It would be an excellent read-aloud in a worship service, especially when hospitality is the theme. Point out how Panda is also using his empathy skills, an important part of loving neighbors as directed in the scriptures. 
Original Publisher & Date: Clarion Books, 2013 
Age and Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up 
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: Treat the stranger as a native (Leviticus 19:34); Love your neighbor (Mark 12:31); Parable of the Banquet Guests (Luke 14:15-24); show hospitality to one another without grumbling (1 Peter 4:9)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book in a lesson or as part of a sermon on the importance of inclusion, avoiding exclusive practices, and practicing hospitality.