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The Lemming Condition

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Overview

The popular story of Bubber the Lemming that teaches children ages 9 and up about conformity and individual values. "A fine parable.''— New York Times

A young lemming is haunted by doubts about the purpose of the great march westward to the sea.

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Overview

The popular story of Bubber the Lemming that teaches children ages 9 and up about conformity and individual values. "A fine parable.''— New York Times

A young lemming is haunted by doubts about the purpose of the great march westward to the sea.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780944993163
  • Publisher: Audio Literature
  • Publication date: 1/1/1995
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: Abridged

Meet the Author

Alan Arkin was born in New York and attended Los Angeles City College and Bennington College. He is an award-winning actor and author who has starred in films, plays, and television shows. His books include: The Lemming Condition, The Clearing, and Some Fine Grandpa! He lives in Weston, CT.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Sunlight streamed into the burrow, landed on the floor, worked its way slowly up the wall, and came to rest on Bubber's face. As it touched him Bubber woke with a start. He sat up, full of anticipation and ready to go. There was something important he had to do on this day, but what it was he couldn't remember. Nothing came to him. Bubber's sister, Sarah, was in the far corner of the room, sorting piles of clothing, and stacking the notes that she was forever taking.

"What's today?" Bubber asked urgently, blinking in the bright light. "What's going on today?"

Sarah stopped what she was doing and sighed a deep theatrical sigh, letting her brother know what a burden he was to her.

"Come on, for God's sake," said Bubber.

"Just tell me. Don't make a scene out of everything."

Sarah smiled at him as if he were an idiot and slowly made a long arc with her arm.

"Oh yes," said Bubber. He slapped his forehead with his paw.

"Have you got it?" asked Sarah.

"I've got it," said Bubber, and jumped out of bed.

"You won't forget now," said Sarah sarcastically.

"I won't forget," said Bubber.

He shook himself awake and went into the living room, ready for action. His parents, up for an hour, were radiating excitement: tidying things and making preparations. There was great random purpose to their activity. His father was stacking things in order, stepping back to get his bearings; his mother cleaning and, dusting,setting things down, then dusting the same items over again. They were talking softly and intensely to each other.

"Ah! Bubber! Bubber! said his father, raising I'll an arm in greeting. He kept his arm raised as if he wanted to continue, but long practice at having nothing to say to his son, left him paralyzed in salute.

"Can I help get things organized?" Bubber asked, wondering how long his father's arm would stay up.

"No, no, we've just about hrenhh..." he driftedoff, unable to find the word, and moved a pile of magazines to where they had been five minutes before.

Bubber's mother was now talking quietly to herself, a longtime habit. She was telling herself exactly what she was about to do next. Bubber hated to interrupt her; her orders to herself seemed so terribly urgent. So he made himself a quick burrow breakfast and started to leave the with a long sack in his paw.

"Where you going with the long sack?" his father asked warmly.

There was only one place Bubber ever went with a sack, but he answered patiently. "I'm going up Kite Hill one last time," he said.

"What goes on up there?" asked Bubber's father. "What are you always going up there for?

"A lot of things," said Bubber. "Clover. It's the only clover around anymore. There's nothing to eat down here."

"That's all it is?" asked Bubber's father.

"Just the clover?"

"Just the clover," said Bubber.

"Well, why don't you get a big batch of it this time and we'll spread it around a little. Get Uncle Claude over, and the whole gang."

Bubber mumbled agreement and left the burrow, dragging his sack behind him.

The stretch of plain on the way to Kite Hill was usually teeming with activity: lemmings bustling for food, gossiping, fighting, or bartering seed for straw. But this morning the plain was quiet and empty. Bubber took note of the silence, and it filled him with foreboding. It wasn't the smooth silence of Kite Hill, but felt thick and green. It was the atmosphere that comes before a violent storm. What was happen in Bubber's home was no doubt taking place everywhere in burrow after burrow, deep under the ground. Bubber could almost feel the tense humming in the earth as he walked along.

He climbed Kite Hill, sack in hand. The hill was a favorite place of his. Clover was still plentiful on top, but since it was an exposed area, few lemmings ever ventured up there. Large birds frequented the hill on occasion, and they kept the lemmings away. Bubber didn't consider himself particularly brave, but he needed the hill, for some reason besides clover, and the birds didn't frighten him. He had even gotten on friendly terms with a few of the crows, whom, in spite of their occasional hysteria, he found to be a thoughtful and interesting group. He even had one close friend among them, whom he called Crow. When Bubber arrived at the top of the hill, he found his friend sitting there, silently watching the empty plain below.

"Lemming," said Crow, by way of a greeting.

"Crow," said Bubber.

Crow was having some difficulty in looking at Bubber. His eye darted toward him for a second, and then went back to the plain below. "Quiet down there," he said cautiously.

"Mmmm," Bubber murmured. He randomly picked a bit of clover and began chewing on it.

"What's going on down there?" Crow asked. "What do you mean?" said Bubber.

"There's no one around," said Crow. "Where is everyone?"

"Getting ready," said Bubber, easily.

"Getting ready?" asked Crow.

"Mmmm," said Bubber.

"Ready for what?" asked Crow.

"Well, it's our time," Bubber answered with a bit of a chuckle. "We're heading west."

"Heading west?" Crow asked.

"That's right," said Bubber.

Crow thought about heading west. He was up on most of the activities that took place on the plain, but this bit of information was news to him.

"Heading west are you?" he repeated.

"Heading west," said Bubber.

West of the plain by about half a mile were the Moorfield Cliffs, and beyond them the sea. Four thousand miles of open sea.

"Going to the cliffs are you?" Crow asked.

"Yes," Bubber answered.

"What is it, a picnic? Some sort of festival?" asked Crow.

I don't know what to call it, Bubber answered. "It is just our time."

Crow found the answer a bit evasive. Something smelled fishy to him. What will you do, spend the day out there?" he asked.

"No, we just pass right on through," said Bubber.

"Ah, I see," said Crow. He waited for some clarification, but none came. "You just continue on west.

"Right," said Bubber.

"Just keep right on going past the cliffs at Moorfield."

"Right," said Bubber again.

"Just keep going west into the ocean," said Crow.

"Something like that," said Bubber.

"Hmmmm..." said Crow. He thoughtabout that for a moment, chuckled, shook his,head, and scratched the ground.

Bubber opened his sack and started off, but Crow stopped him with a claw. "Hold on," he said.

"What's wrong?" said Bubber, shocked at Crow's abrupt action.

"Let's get this thing ironed out here," said Crow.

Lemming Condition. Copyright © by Alan Arkin. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 22 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(6)

4 Star

(12)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

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1 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 22 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 1999

    Not a Follower, a LEADER

    THE LEMMING CONDITION book is a funny book to read. This book is also filled with excitement because this lemming named Bubber has to make lots of decisions. If this lemming makes the wrong decision it could risk his life. This lemming has to make a decision that will change his life forever even if he makes the right decision. The moral to this story is to be a leader not a follower. That is why I love this story and why you should buy this book from Alan Arkin, who is also a movie star. I hope you enjoy this great book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 1999

    mordecai's review

    I like the part of the story when Bubber took his bag to go to Moorfeild Cliffs to pick clovers. Another favorite was the lemming that loved the rocks. He was a loonie. The saddest part of the book was the march to the sea and going west. The most interesting part of the story was when he went to uncle floyd's house. Then when Bubber got to uncle floyd's the things that were happening at his house were also happening at uncle floyd's house. Bubber started to wonder why he was different.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 1999

    review for the Lemming Condition

    My thought of this book THE LEMMING CONDITION is that it is a really good book,butI didn't think this story was the best story I've ever read.At parts of this book Bubber the lemming is doing so many things that the book gets kind of confusing.Remember this is only my opinon. If you were to read this book, I suggest you take it out of the library because I think it is a one time book.I would give this book four stars. No matter how old you are you can read it . The author Alan Arkin is an actor.He was Edwards dad in Edward Scissor Hands.Alan Arkin has a son who is a star in a television series.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 30, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A Wry Look at Life - This modern fable is fun for adults and kids alike

    I have read this to my 5th and 6th grade classes. It provided many fruitful discussions on personal responsibility in life and for the importance of thinking for oneself. The main character, Bubber, makes observations that allow kids the chance for self-introspection. While it is not scientifically correct that lemmings run off cliffs to their deaths, it nevertheless serves the purpose of the story. Themes I have covered with this story: importance of independent thought, "cool" isn't always "cool" (popularity does not make right), don't take the easy way out, be ready for change, is it "okay" just because everyone else is doing it? and how can cynicism affect our attitude. -- I would recommend this book in any classroom or home if you want to encourage dialogue. Read the book and decide if there is a character with whom you identify...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 1999

    Amy's thought about the book LEMMING CONDITION

    I enjoyed the book THE LEMMING CONDITION. I like it because the book is very detailed. I'm going to tell you some things about the book LEMMING CONDITION. The main character in the book is named Bubber. Other characters are Mr.Lemming,Mrs.Lemming, Mr.Claude, Arnold, Crow and this person that loves rocks. In the book Bubber has a lot of problems.One of his problems is going west and jumping off Moorfield Cliffs with all the other lemmings. Will Bubber fix all his problems? Read the book and you will find out! :)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 1999

    Making a Big Decision

    It's about a lemming making a big decision. His name is Bubber. This lemming doesn't know what to do. The book is really worth reading. The author is an actor whose name is Alan Arkin. Once he came to our school.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 1999

    Great! A must read book!

    The LEMMING CONDITION is a very good book. In the book there is a boy named Bubber. In the book he tries to decide whether to listen to all the people who give him an opinion. It even effects his relationship with his best friend, Crow. This is an anthropomorphic book which means that the animal Bubber is like a real boy. If you like pressure, you'll like this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 1999

    Sebastian's Lemming Condition Review

    I think THE LEMMING CONDITION was great. It's about a young lemming named Bubber, who is turned into a misfit when he disagrees to join in the 'March Of The Lemmings' to gather food. Along the way he meets an older lemming who seems to be crazy but teaches Bubber a lesson. I really reccomend this book because you always find out more things about the characters. There are loads of characters and problems. This book also has a moral for the reader, this is a great book of life and it's ups and downs.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 1999

    My review on The Lemming Condition.

    I think that The Lemming Condition is a great book because it has a lot to do with doing what you want to. This book is also very dramatic at the end, but you will have to read the book to figure out why. It also has a good amount of facts about lemmings which the author, Alan Arkin, had to research. The story is about a young lemming Bubber who has to choose whether to do what everybody else does, or do what he wants. This book uses anthropomorphism, Which is giving animals human charicteristics. If you read it you would recomend it too!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 1999

    When Lemmings Head West

    I think the book the LEMMING CONDITION is a wonderful book.It starts out in the begining with a lemming (rodent)called Bubber who is always questioning.Although Bubber learns that he doesn't always have to do stuff that just everybody is doing .When Bubber remembers about the great march to sea, his friend Crow asked him whether the Lemmings could swim,or not. Bubber finds out for himself.I think this book will encourage lots of kids to believe in themselves.I recommend this book to teachers,grown-ups and children because it teaches that just because everyone is doing the same thing it doesn't mean you have to do the same exact thing.I'd say that this is probably the only book that I have read in school that teaches kids to be confident,believing,and, questioning.It shows a lot of friendship.I think this book would be outstanding to young readers,enjoy!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 1999

    Okay,but not great

    This is a powerful story of a lemming named Bubber. He is a young lemming who is asking questions about why eveybody is moving west. I thouught the book had an outstanding ending. Allen Arkin had to have put lots of time and effort into this book. He is proving that in this world somewere this could really happen in the real world. I also liked some of his movies that he made. I didn't think that Allen Arkin had to make a sequal to this story. I recomend this book to young readers. I also thought that this book could be a movie. So keep up the good work Allen Arkin. Make another good book like this one!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 1999

    Heading West Going East

    In ' THE LEMMING CONDITION' a lemming named Bubber goes through many problems. One morning Bubber asked his sister Sara what was happening today. Sara told him what would happpen, then he remembered it. Finally the time came and when this major obstacle that he has to face may just risk his life. He went through similiar problems before the time came. He likes to ask questions so he was ready for the moment to come. Some of his problems were friendship with a crow that he has known for a while. He also has problems with his Uncle Claude and cousins Marco and Fred. It is a 58 page book but has plenty of reading that people of ALL ages can read. Do not think of it as a baby book because it's really not. The author of this book is Alan Arkin. If you like 'Charlotte's Web' or any animal books you WILL love this book. Enjoy!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 1999

    THE LEMMING REVIEW

    I think that this book was sad/exiting.The reason why I think that is because it is amazing that a movie star wrote this book. A nother reason why I liked this book is because Crow tried to help Bubber in the best way he could. One of my favorite characters is the old and loony lemming. The sad part is when the old loonie lemming gets pushed off the Moorefield cliffs by the hypnotized lemmings. Bubber turns out doing the right thing at the end. My advise, read this book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 1999

    Heading West

    This is a powerful book. It gives a good discription about lemmings. In this story a young lemming named Bubber searches to find out if lemmings can swim. He asks everyone he knew. His search is endless I recommend this book to kids and adults of all ages.The author is Alan Arkin. Allen Arkin is a movie star. This thrilling book kept me on the edge of my seat.It is outstanding literature.Alan Arkin definitely spent a lot of time writing this book. THE LEMMING CONDITION will not need a sequal.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 1999

    Bubber and the Other Lemmings

    I rated this book three stars because I thought it was an okay book. It was exciting at some points and at some points a little dull. Some parts were funny. The book was a happy and sad book. It was a good ending because it leaves you thinking. The book was about a lemming named Bubber that has to make a life risking decision.Bubber has to make a lot of choices at one time.One involves his friend Crow. They get in a fight about minding your own business.Then they were sort of friends again and Crow took Bubber to try out his big experiment. The author is Alan Arkin,and he is a movie star. His son Adam Arkin is a comedian.Alin Arkin used to live in Chappaqua N.Y. Now he lives in Hollywood. Alin Arkin used to visit our school.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 1999

    THE LEMMING CONDITION

    I liked this book THE LEMMING CONDITION because it feed me some information on lemmings. It also was a fantastic novel. The main charecter in this novel is a lemming nammed Bubber. He is the youngest one in his family. He has an older sister named Sarah,a mother,a father and an Uncle named Claude. He also has a friend named Crow. When Crow forces Bubber to think Bubber becomes angry. Then Bubber has to make a wise decision that could change his life forever. What will he decide? In order to find out I highly recommend you read this novel by Allen Arkin who is a movie star and also has written some children books. So whatever you do in the future READ THIS BOOK!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 1999

    Heading West

    I like the story because it gives a good description about lemmings. It gives you what they eat and what they do for a living. I recommend this book to adults because a lot of the kids in my class did not understand the ending of this book. If I was in charge of the Newbery award, I would give it to this book. This book is about a lemming who faces a lot of decisions. He could risk his life for one very bad reason. He could lose his family and friends. He has a best friend named Crow who helps Bubber {the lemming} face one important fear but Bubber is still scared. Bubber does not want to do an event that all the other lemmings are going to do. He makes the right and perfect decision. Alen Arken is a famous actor now. He is an actor but still a writer. Alen has written a lot of Lemming stories in his life. He is very famous for his books and in his acting career.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 1999

    How Good Is This Book

    I liked this book because it has animals that act like humans. THE LEMMING CONDITION is about a lemming who does not know if he can swim. When the time comes for his people to jump of Moorfeild cliffs, he doesn't know what to do. Should he jump to his death and be respected or be saved? This book is sad, yet funny. It has loonies,x heroes, and birds. Anyone who likes 'what should you do ' books will like this.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 1999

    The Long March West

    I liked this book, but not that much. It was pretty hard to understand. I did like the way the animals acted like humans. The problem was, should Bubber (the main character) jump off Moorfield cliffs to his death? Find out when you read this twisted book called 'THE LEMMING CONDITION'!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 1999

    Bubber goes to the east

    I like this book a little bit. When Bubber talks to his freinds Crow,Arnold,and his new friend the looney lemming. But it is sad when they all are mesmorized into falling off the cliff to their deaths. Or when Bubber flies on Crow to go to the lake to feel the water to see the temperature of the water. lemmings hate to swim.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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