The Three Questions

Happy Friday, everyone!

It is time once again for Perfect Picture Book Friday sponsored by the very talented Susanna Leonard Hill. I will be out of pocket for a few days. I hope you all have a safe and happy New Year’s. I’ll type to you again in 2012!

Title: The Three Questions: based on a story by Leo Tolstoy

Written and illustrated by Jon J. Muth

2002 Scholastic Press

Suitable for:  ages 6-12 (or any age)

Themes: questions, truth, philosophy, helping others

Opening and Brief Synopsis: “There once was a boy named Nikolai who sometimes felt uncertain about the right way to act. ‘I want to be a good person,’ he told his friends, ‘But I don’t always know the best way to to do that.’  Nikolai’s friends understood and they wanted to help him.”

Nikolai asks three questions:

1. When is the best time to do things?

2. Who is the most important one?

3. What is the right thing to do?

Each of his animal friends answers these questions differently, so Nikolai decides to visit the wise turtle. During his visit with the turtle a terrible storm erupts, and Nikolai rushes to help a panda and her cub who are in trouble. It is through this experience and a little help from the wise turtle that Nikolai discovers the answers to his three questions.

Links to resources:

Why I like this book: This story is based on a fable by Leo Tolstoy. It addresses three essential questions about life that I think we all ponder regardless of age. I love the turtle’s response at the end of the story, “Remember then that there is only one important time, and that time is now. The most important one is always the one you are with. And the most important thing is to do good for the one who is standing at your side.  For these, my dear boy, are the answers to what is most important in this world. “ Children will be drawn to the book’s breathtaking watercolor illustrations and the thoughtful story that is so eloquently retold by Muth.


8 responses to “The Three Questions

  1. Kelly, I just love having a children’s librarian involved with Perfect Picture Books! You find the coolest books! This book sounds so wonderful. I can’t wait to read it. And I’m SO glad to have it added to our list – a great addition! I hope whatever is taking you away is something fun! See you in 2012 🙂

  2. elizabethannewrites

    I love the wise turtle’s advice. Good advice for grownups, as well as kids! (And so cool that it’s based on something by Leo Tolstoy.) Thanks, Kelly!

  3. I really love the theme of this book Kelly! I always look forward to your selections. The wisdom of Tolstoy — being present in the moment, especially with the people you are with. A beautiful theme. The illustrations look beautiful. I may just have to buy this one. I’m always looking for books with spiritual messages. Thank you!

  4. Kelly, this was one of the first picture books I reviewed on my blog. It is poignant and appropriately deep for young children! You often choose books I would 😉

    • Yes, I definitely think we have very similar taste in literature. I picked this book up at the International Reading Conference when it was first published in 2002. It has continued to be a favorite for ten years! 🙂

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