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Middle-school librarians Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan prove that two heads are better than one when it comes to discussing YA and children's books

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013 7:28 pm
Too Tall Houses by Gianna Marino
Posted by: Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan

Cindy: Competition can be good but when it gets out of control, disaster strikes. Too Tall Houses ( Viking 2012) features Rabbit and Owl, two friends who live in two small houses on top of a hill. Rabbit tends a garden to grow his favorite foods and owl likes to sit on his roof to view the forest. They do just fine until Rabbit’s corn stalks grow high enough to block Owl’s view. So Owl adds to his house. Then the sun is blocked and Rabbit’s garden suffers. So Rabbit puts on an addition and designs a rooftop garden. Before you know it the race to the top is out of hand and the too tall houses are not suitable for either animal. Back to the ground and a compromise that both can live with.

This would make a good companion with More by Springman for a discussion about how much is “enough.”

Lynn:  Kids will recognize the urge to compete and laugh at the absurd levels these two characters go to one-up each other.  The humorous illustrations take the sting out of the lesson but it is well-delivered just the same and this is a terrific opening for discussion.  We humans are a competitive species as anyone eavesdropping out our house some days could attest as my grandsons race to build the fastest/largest/most rocket encrusted lego vehicle or block structure possible.  Rabbit and Owl’s outsized competition leads to catastrophe and their cooperation helps them both.

Ask kids to think about times when competition can be a good thing and times when it can be a bad thing.  Ask them for examples and then ask if they can think of examples and what makes the difference.

Or, as Cindy, suggests, read More to the class and ask them to compare and contrast the actions of the crow to Rabbit and Owl.  As them to draw two pictures  – one that is enough and one that is too much or one that shows good competition and one that shows too much.


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