Most helpful positive review
40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
My 4 year old loves this book
on June 17, 2005
I was moved to write this review after reading some of the negative comments made about the book being boring, difficult to understand, or containing values that the parent did not want to pass on to the child. Stuart Little represents an important example of the some of the challenges of selecting reading materials for our children and tests us as parents in many ways. I didn't know how my boy would respond when I began reading it, since I knew it was one of those children's books that has been enjoyed by adults because of its adult humor, archaic language, few pictures. My 4 year old absolutely loves this book. We are on our second reading and a few nights ago, while he was laying in bed after our bedtime reading, he broke out laughing about how Stuart's brother, George, wanted to pour applesauce down the mousehole!
The book was written in 1945, so many of the cultural references are dated, including how gender roles are perceived. But part of our responsibilities as parents is to expose our children to the evolution of thought in our culture, and that includes finding ways to explain how people's behavior has change over the years. A young child has already likely experienced many different behaviors in the children around them from daycare, preschool, or even playgroups. What better way to have an opportunity to prepare your child for the many different views he or she will encounter.
But the message of Stuart Little is a powerful one that can be so useful to a child. Here is a 2-inch tall "person" who "looks like" a mouse, yet he is part of a human family. He has the most amazing obstacles in his life, yet he overcomes them with enthusiasm and joy. The use of actual sailing vocabulary is a wonderful choice by the author. What a great opportunity to expose our children to other language and to show them that specialized language exists for all fields of study, even hobbies. Doesn't even Winnie the Pooh have its own specialized vocabulary (smackrel, blustery day, etc.)?
Stuart doesn't always make the right choices. This provides another great opportunity for discussion, regardless of the child's age. I am a parent who doesn't want to reinforce some of the stereotypes of our past that get in the way of people connecting, whether they be gender inequities or other issues. But it is important that my child get a framework for understanding how the way people have acted toward one another. In the last chapter of the book, Stuart meets a very self-assured girl who, by the way, he asks out on a date is an outdated, but respectful and wonderful way. He winds up being unable to continue connecting with her after his carefully imagined plans don't go as he dreamed. He is upset because things didn't go his way and couldn't get past his disappointment. What a great thing to discuss with a child.
We also have to give our children credit for their intellectual abilities and imagination. I was quite surprised how my boy listens intently through the archaic language and vocabulary and finds the story.
Stuart Little is a great book for that next step for the young child who has only had picture books read to him or her so far. It is a good beginning book for parents to learn how to introduce their child to the varied, challenging, sometimes confusing world out there in a very non-threatening, interesting way. Don't underestimate this book.