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The Eagle and the Wren

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2001

    Learn Nature Lessons from Dr. Jane Goodall's Life

    This book contains the retold fable of the eagle and the wren, which was a favorite bedtime story of Dr. Jane Goodall and her sister, Judy, when they were girls. In addition, Dr. Goodall has an epilogue in which she describes her interpretation of the fable in terms of her own life. The book also contains luscious, detailed pastel drawings that add a majesty and grandeur to the tale. You will feel like you are seeing the world from a bird's eye view . . . way up on high! It's beautifully peaceful there. That's a nice way to end a bedtime story. The story begins when all the birds have an argument about who can fly the highest. Everyone loudly proclaims their superiority. Finally, owl points out that a contest can quickly settle this dispute. Off they go. Many of the birds don't actually go very high. When they return to Earth, they are comforted by the ostrich (who, of course, cannot fly at all) who notes that they have each done the best that they can. Some are distracted (like the vulture) and don't continue the contest. Finally, there seems to be a winner. Just then, an O. Henry style twist occurs to turn the contest onto its head. 'How can you fly so high?' The answer to that question will open up important lessons about the potential for cooperation. What is impossible for one is often easy for several. Many people go throughout their lives without ever understanding that point. Anyone who has read this story will always know differently. That can be the beginning of many wonderful joint accomplishments and collaborations in life. Dr. Goodall's epilogue uses the eagle in the story as a metaphor for her life as an outstanding scientist. 'We all need an eagle.' 'I like to think of all these people [who helped me] as the feathers on my eagle.' 'Each one has played an important role.' ' . . . [M]y eagle is part of the great spirit power that is all around us.' Almost all children's stories emphasize individual competition. This one celebrates cooperation. Every child deserves a chance to hear the cooperative side of that choice. This book is a superb way to open up that understanding. After you finish enjoying the story together with your child, I suggest that you think together of places and situations where two or more animals, people, or combinations thereof can accomplish more together than singly. Let you child come up with the examples. That will deepen the significance of the lesson for her or him. You can cooperate by praising the ideas. Like Dr. Jane Goodall, her staff, and the chimpanzees in the Gombe Preserve in Tanzania, may you and your child live in peaceful cooperation with all the living creatures around you! Donald Mitchell, co-author of The Irresistible Growth Enterprise and The 2,000 Percent Solution

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