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Different Is a Good Thing in Amy Dixon's New Picture Book "Maurice the Unbeastly"

Updated on October 1, 2017
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Cindy Hewitt is a retired teacher with a passion for children's literature. Read-aloud stories add quality to a child's life experiences.

Maurice Learns that Being Different is a Good Thing

Different can be a great thing if you choose your differences.
Different can be a great thing if you choose your differences. | Source

Learning to Accept Differences Adds to Friendship

Maurice is slightly different from the other beasts in his neighborhood. He likes to sing and has wonderful manners. He also prefers his snacks to be green and organic. Mom and Dad are concerned about all of these differences and sincerely want to help Maurice become more uncivilized and have more friends in the neighborhood. It is time for Maurice to learn to be more beastly. Mom and Dad enroll Maurice in the Abominable Academy for Brutish Beasts in hopes that Maurice will learn what they consider to be better habits as a beast. Maurice wanted to please his parents and become more beastly, but he doesn't want to give up his nice snacks and he fears being a failure at becoming fierce like the others. He fails at his first singing lesson at the academy because his sweet singing voice is not desirable in the beastly choir. The headmaster wants a beastly "ROAR!". Maurice also fails at being a messy eater. The academy sends notes home to complain about Maurice and his failures to become more beastly. Maurice also gets into trouble because he is photogenic and likes to smile. What is he to do? A surprise small creature makes an appearance and solves the problem when Maurice teaches the other beasts to be nice to the little creature. Children will be delighted with the way that the little creature helps the other beasts to accept Maurice with his differences. There is a lesson for animal lovers in Amy Dixon's new picture book Maurice the Unbeastly.

Colorful and Engaging illustrations

Maurice's sweet voice makes him different from the other beasts.
Maurice's sweet voice makes him different from the other beasts. | Source
Maurice is sent to a new school to learn to be more beastly.
Maurice is sent to a new school to learn to be more beastly. | Source
Maurice is certainly different from all of the other beasts at the school.
Maurice is certainly different from all of the other beasts at the school. | Source

Maurice the Unbeastly Presents a Wealth of Opportunities for Teaching the Value of Differences

I used a wide variety of picture books as a teacher in an early childhood classroom to teach a wide variety of concepts. Teaching young children to learn to accept differences in others is a hot topic in classrooms now. Bullying is still on the rise and children need creative lessons in learning to accept others. Amy Dixon's new picture book Maurice the Unbeastly is a great choice for teaching children to appreciate the differences in their friends.

I have prepared a sample lesson for teachers to use in their classroom. Parents may also find these ideas helpful during a family reading time with Maurice the Unbeastly. Games and other activities offer a fun way for young children to observe the diversity in their world. Learning to be inclusive is a powerful lesson that can be learned from Maurice's friends at the academy.

A Lesson Plan for Using Amy Dixon's Maurice the Unbeastly

Teachers may want to add their own creative ideas to the included lesson plan. Maurice the Unbeastly presents a wealth of ideas for learning about diversity.

*Read the engaging story of Maurice in a planned reading group time.

*Call attention to all of the ways that Maurice is different. Lead the children in a discussion of why his differences are not bad things.

*Make a list in a group writing session about differences that children see in their friends in the classroom. Are these differences a good thing? How do these differences make the classroom better?

*Prepare a lesson with tasting "green snacks". Maurice preferred green snacks that were also organic. Ask your children to bring in their favorite snacks and combine their favorites with a few green snacks. Have a tasting party with the snacks and call attention to the variety of favorites and the differences that everyone presents with their choice of snacks. You might choose to create a "Favorites" graph with stickers that reflect the likes and dislikes for the variety of snacks.

An Extra Lesson for Animal Lovers is Found in Maurice the Unbeastly

The surprise creature that appears at the Abominable Academy for Brutish Beasts will delight animal lovers. The beasts do not know what the little creature is. It's a little dog! All of the other beasts were unsuccessful with their loud noises and roars in getting to know the little visitor. Maurice was soft and kind in his approach to the little white dog. He offered the little dog a special treat. The headmaster was impressed with Maurice's talent and Maurice became the Official Creature Whisperer of the Abominable Academy for Brutish Beasts.

This book is special to me with this added opportunity to teach children to be kind to animals. I encourage teachers and parents to call attention to the way in which Maurice was kind to the little dog and his influence on the other beasts to learn to be kind to animals.

Maurice Displayed a Talent for Being Kind to Animals


Teaching Diversity to Young Children

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