Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Real Thief by William Steig

I found this very short tale of thievery, wrongful accusation and redemption to be an incredibly compelling morality tale. Ok, that probably sounds silly when addressing a story about a goose who is wrongfully accused of a crime actually committed by a well-meaning mouse... but nonetheless I was entirely impressed. In a very accessible way, Steig crafted a very complex moral spectrum. While the mouse (the "real thief") struggles with his inability to right the wrong he has created, Gawain the goose is wracked by the hurt wreaked by his friends who did not stand in defense of his innocence. At fifty-eight pages, The Real Thief is the perfect length for a two-night read aloud session with parent and child, or even as a single sitting for a child alone. It has all the complexity of a much longer book, in the language and length for a much younger child. Perfect for ages four and five (if being read aloud to) or six (for reading alone) and up, and for kids struggling to cross into chapter books.

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