Where in the World is Wipple is a fable about a group of animals seeking to escape the dangers and hardship humans impose on their lives. Cruelty to animals is only one of the themes that surface and recur in this tale. Appetites, greediness, selfishness, affection and compassion are others. They all offer plenty of material for discussion.
The story will stimulate young readers to ask questions. With a little guidance this may then lead to a philosophical discussion that should aim at identifying and solving problems. In the process the children are encouraged to open up and to reflect on difficulties they have encountered themselves. This activity will furthermore help the children to develop thinking skills, expressive language and the ability to present their views.
Let’s review some of the questions that arise in Chapter One.
Rocco Raccoon is hungry, but fearful of eating the farmer’s corn. He might get caught in a trap. He recalls how, Wipple, his BFF (best friend forever) was trapped and presumably killed by the farmer. He gets together with some of the other animals a crow, a deer and a rabbit, and they agree to look for greener (safer) pastures. Bella, the farmer’s pig, being fattened for slaughter, decides to join them. The following question can be posed:
- How do we deal with our appetites?
- What is the difference between having an appetite and being hungry?
- What do you think about shooting and trapping animals?
- What do you think about animal rights?
The children will come up with a variety of answers, questions and comments. In this open-ended discussion there are no right or wrong answers. As teachers or parents it is our role to suggest and guide, not to simply impose our opinion.
When a problem is identified, the question is how can it be solved. That will lead to further discussion and opportunities to gently nudge them on.
As we follow Rocco and his friends on their journey, we run into other problems and other opportunities to seek solutions.
- Big Ideas for Little Kids by Thomas E Wartenberg and
- A Sneetch is a Sneetch and Other Philosophical Discoveries by the same author.
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