“David Goes To School” by David Shannon

Last week I claimed the supremacy of wisdom over knowledge, as far as what’s more useful in life. Although I still stand by it, I don’t dismiss knowledge as such. I would be a hypocrite if I did. I am very proud of every little bit that I have learned at school and beyond, even if I have already forgotten most of it. Yes, I was a dork, indeed. Years later, I have one grudge, though. The knowledge I was gaining at school, seemed so detached from real life. I was studying chemical formulas and periodic tables, but I couldn’t see a connection between bases and baking soda, for example. Luckily, learning has become more hands-on these days. Thanks goodness for that, as I would rather have my son understand a topic instead of quoting encyclopedias. To illustrate my argument, let me mention a little Bangladeshi boy, who in his attempt to impress me with his knowledge of English,  fluently recited a paragraph from his handbook on the qualities of jute. At the same time, he was unable to respond to a simple  “What’s your name?”

I do believe we should raise knowledgeable children. And of course, since we, parents can’t teach them everything on every subject,  the role of school in this respect is undeniable. Children should go to school to get education that will properly respond to their potential. Again, I am not trying to say, do what you can, pay what you can’t, but send your child to the best private school around. Certainly not. (Unless you choose to be a part of an exhausting and humiliating charade… Anyone seen “The Best and The Brightest”?) There are lots of good schools to choose from and even more talented, dedicated and charismatic teachers, that just wait to be exploited by motivated and knowledge-hungry students. Let’s take advantage of them!

There is one other aspect I’d like to touch upon, when speaking about schooling of our children. I believe that  the primary purpose of school is to learn. Children progress from “I don’t know” to “I do know”. It is okay not to know in the beginning. What I see, however , is that parents often view school as a place to show off their children’s error-free achievements and impeccable behavior. Children are sent to school a year later, to get a cognitive advantage over the younger class mates or  follow after-school math and reading classes, in order to be ahead of the curriculum. Where is it all going to?

Just a few days before the school starts, I invite you to read “David Goes To School”.  As you can see in this school adventure, even a naughty student like David will not be expelled from school, but will be taught the proper behavior. After a series of reprimands, he will finally deserve a star for doing a good job. 

A hilarious way to help your child (and yourself ) prepare for a new school year. If David does fine at school, every child will.


359. “Too Many Toys” by David Shannon

Spencer had a lot of toys, in every corner of the house. Big toys, small toys, blocks, cars, rubber ducks, you name it. Some of them were stimulating and educational, some not. Spencer was getting toys from everybody on any occasion. He didn’t object, but his parents started seeing the need of purging. After a long haggling, mom and Spencer prepared a box of earless bunnies and headless aliens to be given away. But wait a minute… The toys can go, but no the box! After all it was Spencer’s favorite spacecraft! 

Spencer has too many toys. So does Victor, Maya, Evan and most of other children these days. So, on behalf of their parents (I hope you don’t mind),  I am asking all the generous grandmas, aunties, and family friends to think twice before buying a new toy to their grandchild, niece or nephew. They will love you even if you show up empty-handed, and the parents will appreciate the less hazardous floor conditions (stepping on a scattered Lego block can be really painful, and tripping over a misplaced truck can lead to the ER). Thank you in advance.

A true to life story, told with lots of dry humor, and typical Shannon, bright, bold and quite eerie pictures. Very engaging all together.

117. “No, David! by David Shannon

Whenever young moms get together and talk about their toddlers or preschoolers, as all young moms do, even if they claim they have a life outside motherhood and prefer other conversation topics, there is always a story about a child being in a “NO phase”. Interestingly, although we complain about our children, we, moms, are in that phase too. Most likely, we say the NO word much more often than our children do. No, don’t do this, no, don’t go there, no, there is no dessert before dinner… How often have you used it today, fellow mom?

David’s mom used to say “no” quite a lot. Well, David was giving her lots of opportunities. He would draw on the wall, enter the house in his muddy shoes, flood the bathroom or break a vase as a result of an indoor baseball game. “I said no, David!” But when David’s eyes filled with tears, David’s mom knew that it was a right time for a little “Yes, David… I love you”

Yes… don’t we love our little ones regardless of how many no’s per day we have to say, scream or mumble in their direction. Or perhaps, the more protective no’s, the bigger the yes, for I love you?

On the practical side, apparently the forbidden fruit will always sound tempting, so how about limiting our don’t and mustn’t in favor of positive guidance, which not only might save us from nervous breakdown but also prove more fruitful a parenting method.

Coming back to the book, David Shannon did it again: he wrote a very engaging and entertaining story, which he illustrated with very original art. I really like the warm and bright colors, although I have to admit that  it took me a while to get used to David’s a bit disturbing features.

24. “Duck on a Bike” by David Shannon

Have you ever had a crazy idea that you have never chosen to execute, just because someone might have called it crazy? Have you had a wild dream that you have always decided to keep just a dream?  Skydiving, a trip to China, acting school? Somehow, the older we get and the more capable we become, the less we dare, don’t you think? That is why I love watching children. They don’t worry about should, could would. They just don’t worry, period. If they want to do something, they just go for it.

And so does one particular Duck. He decided to ride a bike. He wasn’t really a smooth rider, but he gave it a try. As he was having fun, the other animals were taking their time to worry about his safety, question his judgement, accuse him of showing off or watch him with envy. Luckily, when given an opportunity and bikes, all the animals hopped on the bicycles and followed  Duck’s idea. Duck’s craziness was inspiring.

I don’t know whether my son will be a leader or a follower, but I do want him to be able to dare. I want him to reach for the moon. That’s what life should be about.

Great story, David, Shannon and  I love the pictures. and my son loves Duck’s next wild idea!