Author: Laura Rankin
Illustrator: Laura Rankin
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books
Audience: Ages 5-12
Summary: Ruthie was a lover of teeny tiny things. Ruthie finds a teeny tiny camera on the playground at school and when the real owner asked her to return it she claimed that it was hers. She lied to the teacher when she was asked if she was the owner. After Ruthie tells the lie, she feels terrible and is unable to concentrate or even eat. At bedtime she breaks down and tells her parents what she had done. The next day she told Martin and her teacher—Mrs. Olsen the truth.
Literary elements at work in the story:
Setting: Ruthie is in a school setting and she wanted something so badly that she decided to lie about it.
Characterization: The author uses animal characters to personify people and to tell the story. Ruthie is portrayed as a female fox. In choosing a fox I wondered if the author wanted to portray this character as sly, crafty and witty—those characteristics often associated with a fox. Ruthie allowed her selfish desire to overtake her moral sense—she knew what was right.
Plot: Ruthie is portrayed as having a great love for small things. Conflict arises because Ruthie finds a small camera that does not belong to her. When the rightful owner asked her for it she lied and claimed it as her own, because she wanted it for herself. After lying she realizes that she does not feel good about what she has done. The next day she does the right thing and tells the truth. Ruthie is forgiven.
Theme: There are times when our desires over-ride our moral judgment and cause us to tell a lie. Telling lies does not make us feel very good. Telling the truth always makes us feel better.
Point of View: Story is told in the third person about the main character Ruthie. The author takes the moral stance that telling the truth is always the right thing to do. Although Ruthie made a poor decision not to tell the truth, the author chooses an outcome of forgiveness rather than punishment.
Style: Author uses a play on the words “teeny tiny”. She uses multiple synonyms for the word little such as tiny, teeny, itty-bitty and small.
Gender: Although the author uses Ruthie who is a female fox there is no gender stereotyping that only girls tell lies.
Race: Ruthie could represent anyone from any culture.
Culture: Diversity and multiculturalism is represented by the different animals in the class
Ability: Ruthie has no handicapping disabilities. Ruthie would probably represent the average child in any class room who found themselves in a similar predicament.
Scripture #1: Exodus 20:15-17; Ephesians 1:5-8
Theology talk #1: Our moral judgment is not only based on what society deems is right. According to Barth our ethics comes from God who reminds us that in abiding in him there are some commands that we should follow.
Theology talk #2: God forgives us of our wrong doings just like Mrs. Olsen the teacher forgave Ruthie. She did not punish her.
Faith Talk Questions:
1) What are possible ways that we can live in Christ?
2) If we are under grace what role does the ten commandments play in the Christian life?
3) Because God forgives us when we do wrong how are we to live when other do wrong?
Review prepared by Union Presbyterian Seminary student Dee Osbourne-Smart