Category Archives: Moral Lesson

The Great Turkey Walk by Kathleen Karr

This book is absolutely marvelous.  So marvelous that, even though it is a “youth” book, they have published it in Large Print for those of us that are no longer young in years.  I read it in one evening.  And it was DELIGHTFUL.  The lessons encapsulated in this easy read are ones I want my daughter to learn.  For example, all people are treated with dignity and respect.  Each person has a talent that contributes to the group as a whole.  Unlikely people are given big chances – and they more than rise to the occasion.  It also portrays family and love by relationships, not blood ties.

And, it takes place in the USA when, as it says on the back, animals were brought to market on their own hooves or claws.  I’d never heard of a turkey drive before.

It’s a great book!  I’m trying to get Jun interested in it (she’s almost 8) as a “listen while Mama reads book.”  I hope I’m successful!



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Duck & Goose How Are You Feeling? by Tad Hills

I loved the Duck & Goose book about opposites so could hardly wait until this one came out.  I finally got my copy – opened it up – and thought…hmmmm  not what I expected.


The same great duck and goose images were there, but the one word descriptions of feelings didn’t seem to be adequate.  My daughter, however, loved the book.  Then I remembered why these books are so great.  Because someone HAS to read them to the kiddies.  And, hopefully that someone has a clue what the words mean – take “frustrated” for instance – and can talk about the picture, give examples, AND coach the kiddo in what to do when he/she is FRUSTRATED.

This book has given Jun words to many important feelings, and, as I said, I’ve given her some tools to deal with some of them.

For example – frustrated.  Our family takes a big breath and says, “Help me, Jesus!”  big breath, “Help me, Jesus!”  It is amazing how many more things Jun has persevered through using this breathing and praying, now that we have learned the word “frustrated.”

We have a song about being mad.  The book says “angry”, but both work for us.  We say, “count to 5!  1-2-3-4-5!”

The picture of one duck who took ALL the flowers and the others who were so sad and the selfish duck was all alone, and…well, it just naturally leads into a discussion about sharing.

So, this book gets a great grade from me – and Jun (3 1/4 yo)!

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Fat Cat on a Mat by Phil R. Cox

If you guessed straight off that THIS book was a phonics book – well, you’d be right.  I have raided my bookshelves at work for books for Jun to read, and there are, therefore, too many phonics books to count.  As Jun is not yet reading these books herself, I “get” to read them again and again.  Phonics books, for anyone who doesn’t know, are often very uninteresting.  The plots and conversations are quite limited to words that, for example in this book, have the short sound for the letter “a” in them.


So, in general, this book is your standard phonics book.  BUT it has a twist – or I wouldn’t bother to finally post about it here!  There is a nice moral in this simple story about a cat who, while escaping from a bee, knocks a birds nest off the branch of a tree.  She takes personal responsibility for her accidental action, and keeps the resident eggs warm, refusing to play with all the little animals that invite her, until they hatch!

I was so glad to find a phonics book that I could use to discuss “trying to make things right” after accidents with Jun.  I guess I’ll keep this phonics book around even after she’s done reading it herself!

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The Last Time I Was Me by Cathy Lamb

From the look of this blog, you’d think I hadn’t read a book in months.  Other than Toddler books, you would be mostly right!  However, when I was home in the US this summer, my Mom recommended this book, “The Last Time I Was Me.”  The title looked rather depressing.  Kind of like the story of someone having a nervous breakdown…and, what do you know?  It WAS!

However, it was much much more.  First, the majority of the story takes place in northern Oregon.  I am pretty critical of authors who write about Oregon because I “check to make sure they got it right.”  And Cathy Lamb does get it right.  So, the setting itself was nostalgic in many ways.

And the story was riveting.  I forsook parenting and sleep to FINISH the book before coming back to Japan (it was a library book, and Jun had Grammy and Grandpa to play with her!) 

I am attracted to novels that deal with emotional or psychological struggles in a healthy and mature way.  I learn so much more from the novel format than I ever do or will from a textbook.  That’s how my brain and heart work.

This is a great story of healing, new life, hope, true friendship and love.  Give it a read!

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Pay It Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde

I was listening to the military radio station, we get here in the Tokyo area, and they told a story of a military man in Kansas who saw a car accident and pulled a man from a burning car.  The message he left with the rescued man was, “Just pay it forward.”

This sent me right back to my bookshelf where I have had this book saved for a few years.  I bought and read the book before I knew it was a popular movie.

When I did see the movie, flying over the Pacific Ocean, to or from Japan, I was a bit disappointed.  The book is THAT much better.

A few things that touched me I didn’t really notice in the movie.  First, in the book, the teacher is a black man whose face was severely injured during the Vietnam war.  This injury is a big deal in the book, as it is the root of many of his feelings of insecurity.  The mother in the story is a recovering alcoholic (in the movie she is always stashing booze in the kitchen lights and under the wet clothes in the washer) who stays dry for the duration of the book.  Her insecurities about her status in the world mesh and clash with the teacher’s as they build a romantic relationship.

So, I really liked the book without even the part about paying it forward!  But, Paying it Forward is a great concept.  While living in Japan I will have to practice paying back as it is SO important culturally here.  But, I can encourage others to NOT pay me back, but Pay it Forward to someone else.

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Isabel Dalhousie Series by Alexander McCall Smith

After I got hooked on McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, whenever my sweet husband stopped by an English bookstore, he would pick up whichever McCall Smith book they had that I didn’t have yet.  Regardless of the series.

Thus, I was introduced to all four of his series.  While each series is different, and the detective agency one seems to be the best selling, I enjoy all of them.  The main characters make the books.  The way McCall Smith writes, we hear all of the thinking that goes on inside the heads of the main characters.  They are very open with their thoughts.  Maybe even innocent in expressing their opinions and feelings. 

In the Isabel Dalhousie series, the main character edits a magazine.  A magazine on applied ethics – versus moral theory.  Not only does she edit the magazine, she is constantly thinking about the ethics of each decision she makes each day, and shares these mini “dilemmas” with the reader freely. 

While the plots of the books are slow moving, there is enough there to make me want to read the next book sometime.  Isabel Dalhousie’s  thinking challenges me to think ethically about my daily life.

I love novels with a purpose.

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