This exquisitely illustrated folktale is based on a musical piece co-written by legendary songwriter Diane Lampert and nine-time Grammy-winning jazz musician Wynton Marsalis. The story tells of the origins of five less than charming traits we humans possess, and the one thing that overcomes them all.
Mother Nature is a very busy woman. Her job is to tend to the Earth and all the creatures that dwell there—she must wake up the bulbs and warm the land in spring, then rush off to freeze the ponds and create snow in winter. However, more than anything, Mother Nature wants children of her own. So with twigs and pumpkin seeds, she made herself five offspring. The first she named Fear (because it rhymes with dear), followed by Envy, Hate, Greed, and Fickle.
As she is so busy tending to the Earth, she asks her favorite and most helpless creatures—the poor, wingless, finless humans—to watch over her children as she works. As they interact with their caretakers, her children's wild personalities grow and begin to seep into human nature in ways that Mother Nature never intended.
A lilting, lyrical ode to all our human shortcomings and the one trait—love—that can overcome them all, this book beautifully captures the complexity of us all.
Classroom idea: act out the story, having one child (or group of children) represent each "child" in the story. Create movement and a song/sound for each character and perform as a class.
NOTE: Marsalis's "Suite for Human Nature" was never recorded for public distribution. However, this New York Times review describes the piece in detail.