Author and Illustrator: Sharon Cramer
Publisher: B&F Publishing, available as an e-book.
ISBN # 978-1-4507-3351-9
Audience: ages 4-8
Summary: Two young, orphaned cougar siblings spend their days playing happily and imaginatively together. One day they meet a creature who resembles a cougar cub but is not exactly like a cougar cub. At first the siblings wonder if the new cub’s differences make the cub worse or better than they are. Then, through playing, talking, and finding their way together, they become friends who share a joyful homecoming that evening.
Literary Elements at work in the Story: The rhyming stanzas per page are just the right length to keep children understanding the text as well as enjoying the story progression. The colorful illustrations, the variety of landscape details on each page (cactus plants, a lake, budding trees, forests, ferns, canyons, monkeys, frogs, mice, snow-capped mountains) create an otherworldly setting. This story could take place anywhere or everywhere! The landscape is shown in vivid colors as a backdrop for fun and adventure so that even though the cubs have a challenge to find their way home, the world is not a scary place.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? The watercolor illustrations not only show children what the animals are thinking, but they playfully indicate the differences between the animals: a spotted coat instead of solid coat, pointy, long, pink ears instead of small, round ears, and a short bushy tail instead of a long curvy tail. The new cub has glasses on, and there is the suggestion that the cub may not see so clearly. The new cub teaches the cougar siblings that differences are nothing to fear. While it is clear that there is one boy cub and one girl cub, the new cub’s gender is not specified.
Theological conversation partners: God’s world is vast and various, colorful and diverse. God offers us a joyful life of adventure and play with others who are in some ways different, and in some ways similar, to us. Let’s be open and kind to all God’s people!
Faith Talk Questions:
- What kinds of things did the cougar brother and sister play and imagine together?
- How is their new friend different from them?
- How do the three cubs find their way home that night? Explain.
- How many other animals do you see in this book? Find them!
This review is written by Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna and staff member Anne Rankowitz.