It feels so good to get even! Or does it? Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes shares the story of little Lilly the mouse who learns for herself that it’s better to forgive than retaliate. Lilly loves everything about her unique teacher Mr. Slinger, until the day he confiscates her new musical purse for using it to disrupt class. She decides to get back at him! She leaves him a mean note calling him names – only to discover at the end of the day that he has left her a note too. His note encourages her that she’ll have a better day tomorrow and includes some of his tasty cheese snacks. She’s horrified at what she’s done, and vows to tell him she’s sorry. Her “especially incredible teacher” not only demonstrates forgiveness, but how to give someone a fresh start.
I recommend this story because it doesn’t discuss the virtue of forgiveness, it shows forgiveness beautifully. Little readers will sympathize with Lilly’s emotions, from anger to guilt to joy, as she progresses through the story thus helping them internalize the lesson for themselves. The book is also an excellent way to start talking about how we should treat others how we would wish to be treated, regardless of how they treat us.
Ideas for interaction: Parts of the story are told through the illustrations, which is a great way to start discussing how different actions made Lilly feel throughout the book. You can ask if there was a time when your little readers were angry like Lilly, or a time when they forgave someone like Mr. Slinger. You can also make some tasty cheese snacks of your own to enjoy while you read the story! Here is a recipe for your own cheese crackers (which you could always cut into mice instead of fish), or you could try these purely-cheese treats if you’d like to go grain free!