today’s children storybook summary is
Stephen and the Beetle
By Jorge Lujan
Illustration by Chiara Carrer
Life is made up of small things, grace is universal, and empathy is better learned through play and observation.
Even bugs have a life, a place to go, or a youngster to take care of. That’s what Stephen learned one summer day, while outside in the garden. He also got to witness the dignity of a beetle. Here’s the story.
One afternoon, maybe a very hot one, Stephen, a boy dressed in checkered shorts and stripped shirt, spotted a beetle crawling through a patch of grass. He got ready to slam it with his shoe (he took it off his foot and raised it up). The beetle payed no attention to him. Then something happened. Maybe because the indifference of the beetle, or maybe because the hot afternoon, or because he knew better, Stephen stopped. With one foot shoeless and his hand still holding the smashing weapon – the shoe – he had a moment of grace. What was the beetle doing there? At that moment he realized that life, for the little beetle, will not go on if he’d kill it. He’d never find out were the beetle was going and why.
Out of curiosity, the boy laid on the ground to take a better look at the insect. The beetle walked up to his face. At such close look, it seems like a creature from prehistoric times. It had horns and scales and it was ready to attack. As the boy waited, the beetle, thinking better of it, or perhaps because the heat, or because it didn’t serve any purpose, the beetle gave up. It turned around and walk off towards an unknown corner of the garden.
And that was it. The boy and the beetle went on with their day, like nothing ever happened. Except that they both have learned to be kind.
A boy, about five or six years old; a beetle
The illustrator, Chiara Carrer, uses a multitude of techniques to make this story come alive. She engages acrylic, ink, pencil, oil pastel and collage but uses all in an economic manner. Her drawings are big, making prominent statements on the page. The colors are soft – even the blacks and the greys have a certain gentleness that soothes rather than frightens.
3 to 7 years old
Things to learn
Empathy is the capacity to “put yourself in somebody’s else shoes” and feel and understand their emotions, actions or way of thinking.
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