Wednesday, October 5, 2016

A Story About the Other You



As a second grade teacher, there are few things more simultaneously maddening yet chuckle-inducing than the face of a seven year old when you ask them why they threw a pencil across the room and hit another kid in the chest. Their brow furrows and their eyes shine with genuine confusion. This week, I discovered a book that solves the mystery.


The Snurtch, a picture book written by Sean Ferrell and illustrated by Charles Santoso is about Ruthie, a little girl with a rather large problem. She likes school and she likes her classmates, but whenever she tries to do the right thing, the Snurtch interferes and makes sure she does exactly the wrong thing. She scribbles and burps and chases. She is rude, she throws pencils, and she makes weird noises. Only it isn’t Ruthie doing it, it’s the Snurtch, an impish creature that enjoys wreaking havoc in Ruthie’s life. Ruthie is miserable until she makes a drawing of the Snurtch and presents it to her class and things begin to change.


The illustrations focus on Ruthie, her Snurtch and her classmates. The background is mostly white space, which draws the eye to the main problem of the story. The Snurtch itself is drawn the way Ruthie sees him and the way a child would draw him.  He looks like a cross between a Tasmanian devil and a dragon as he flies around eating crayons, pulling pigtails, and knocking kids out of chairs. Ruthie looks like she is having a bona fide bad day, until she learns to deal with her Snurtch in her own unique way.


I like the message of the book, that is, that we all have a Snurtch that likes to meddle in our lives just when we are trying to do our best to behave. Children in particular might not understand that sometimes you wake up on the wrong side of bed or things are going on at home that stress you out. They might not be able to articulate their feelings, hence the look of confusion when an adult questions their actions.


The Snurtch is a fun way to broach the subject of bad days and negative feelings that might make a child act out for reasons they don’t understand. The book puts a face to those feelings and, in presenting them as something separate from the child, helps kids understand them better.



This would be a great class read-a-loud for students who have trouble with feelings and self-control.