Friday, September 10, 2010

Picturebook: What If?

With a grand total of six words in the entire book, Laura Vaccaro Seeger's newest title explores the concept of social play and inclusivity through deceptively simple art.

Two seals are playing with a ball in the water, when a third seal appears on the beach looking for a friend. Rather than show a structured outcome, the author provides three different options, and shows the probable result of each.

In option one, the seal in the water is left out when the two on the beach begin to play. Option two also sees a seal left sad and alone, when the two original seals return to the water to play. But in option three, all three seals play together: nobody is left out, and nobody feels sad.

Kids will definitely need some help to figure out the non-linear structure of this book. Once they understand that three different social options are being presented, kids will clearly understand that leaving someone out of play can result in hurt feelings and sadness. (and who can resist a sad seal?) Getting kids to apply this abstract lesson to their actual play will take a bit of coaching, as the situation depicted (seals on the beach with a ball) may not translate immediately into playground practicalities.

Grades k-2
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