Name of book: “ Superior Pet” from The Rainbow People
Author: Laurence Yep
Audience: Grades 3-8
Summary: A family falls on hard times and sells all of its possessions except one silver spoon. They are sure that the spoon will someday help them rebuild the family fortune. Soon only a daughter remains in the family and being single, she must go to live in a communal house. There, she finds a mouse whose life she saves by feeding it from her own meager food. When the mouse is finally discovered by the others, the woman and mouse must leave the house. Having nowhere to go, she wanders from place to place fearing she will have to sell her prized spoon. While resting on a wall, the mouse jumps up, takes the spoon, drops it deep inside the wall and disappears. The woman is angry that the mouse she treated with such kindness would do such a thing. She digs through the wall to find the spoon and finds that it has been carefully placed on top of a treasure.
Literary elements at work in the story: This story is one in a collection Yep retells simply and directly, using his own voice while preserving the spirit of the original tale.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story: This collection contains twenty Chinese folktales selected from a 1930’s WPA project. Each includes an introduction which helps the reader get a feel for the world from which they were spawned. This is an excellent introduction to Chinese and Chinese-American folktales.
Scripture: John 21: 1-14
Theology: After Christ’s death, the disciples must have felt like the woman after the mouse ran away with her spoon. Here they had followed this man and given up all for him and he leaves them. Thanks be to God, Christ rose from the dead and continued to provide for his believers. Like the woman, the disciples found their faith left them with a treasure that never expected and one that, unlike earthly treasures, never ends.
Faith Talk Questions:
- Why did the woman share the little she had with a mouse that if discovered would mean she would have to leave the safety of the house.
- What would you have done?
- Have you ever been disappointed by someone you trusted?
- How did you react?
- If you were a disciple, how would you have felt after Christ was crucified?
- What treasure did they find?
- How can you find that treasure?
Review prepared by regular contributor Janet Lloyd.