Friday, March 7, 2014

Barnyard manners!

Kids, especially the younger kids love farm animals. It was very easy to pick a book for Abhay when he was a toddler as any book on cows or barnyard animals would do….irrespective of whether there was a story or not! J  This is partly due to the fact that his first memories of his maternal grandparents’ place was their farm in Dharmasthala which also comprised of their small scale dairy farm. Abhay was quite fascinated by “Amba”, a child’s reference to cows in the Kannada language. Since most of the houses in rural South Kanara always maintained cattle farm, it was easy to handle my two year old when visiting relatives. All I had to do was to  take him to the cow shed! Even when we had moved to the US, he would enquire about them over telephone!  My mother had even composed a lullaby on Abhay and the cattle in our farm which was a mandatory request at bedtime back in those days when we would sing him to sleep. It was so much a part of our nighttime playlist for Abhay that when we started reading to Abhay, we missed it  more than Abhay! J


As Abhay grew up (and he still growing!), slowly his fascination for cows began to wane and now he is more interested in the farm dog than the cattle and sadly has no recollection of our own farm song! Anyway, with today’s prompt for the 30 books in 30 days Challenge being Barnyard, I picked out a book on barnyard animals. We’ve all read about animal making raucous noise in a barn…but have heard about a barn where the animals teach good manners to good little children? “Atchoo!” by Mij Kelly and Mary McQuillan is a story of Suzy Sue who goes Atchoo offending her farm friends, including the cow, sheep, horse and the rooster who chide her for not covering her mouth. When they realize that Sue doesn’t have a clue, they wonder if she were born in a zoo! So Mr. Cow pulls out a book titled "Good Manners for Complete Animals” and goes over all the rules only to find a few others too needing a crash course.  For instance, the farm dog with a running nose is given a handkerchief, pigs are guided into observing table manners and not to wallow about in food, cats are asked not to fight as they bring disgrace to the farm. In short, they explain to Sue that she shouldn’t pong like a dog, or eat like a pig or fight like a cat. Not pleased by such references, the dogs, pigs and cats take out a protest march against the manner-preachers. So it’s now Sue’s turn to chide the cow, sheep and the horse to expound the most important rule of all – “Always do what you’d like others to do to you” and counsels them to be polite so that the clumsy ones learn by imitation and not by bullying. So they realize their mistake and soon the good mannered help the ill mannered to make up a well mannered farm! A nice little book that drives home the value of being well mannered and courteous without being too preachy! So if your little one has an issue with minding his p's and q's…….have the barnyard animals train him! J

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