Vintage Book Review for Teaching K-1 Students Timeless Morals and Story Structure: “All the Lassies”

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Often, the analysis that goes into a book review can lend itself to a dissection of a book’s story structure. This book review provides a recommendation of a fun teaching tool in addition to an outline for discussing with your K-1 students the structure of the story in question.

I. Synopsis – “All the Lassies” by Liesel Moak Skorpen

Peter tells his mother he would like a dog, but she says they don’t have room. So, she offers him a fish, a smaller pet that he calls Lassie, but the fish won’t come when Peter calls it. Thus again, he asks for a dog. His mother says they don’t have room but offers him a turtle. However, the turtle, which he names Lassie, won’t wag its tail like Peter wants it to. So, he asks his mother again for a dog, but she gets him a bird. But the bird, although named Lassie, won’t make the “woof, woof” sound, so Peter asks again. He is then given a kitten because, mother says, they don’t have room for a dog. The kitten, named Lassie, won’t fetch the ball. So, Peter asks his mother again for a dog. She then decides he can have one very small dog, but when they get home, they have a huge dog in tow, which can do all the things the kitten, turtle, bird and fish can’t. Peter calls him Walter, and he and the Lassies all become very good friends.

II. Structural Breakdown

  • Protagonist Want – Peter wants a dog.
  • Obstacle or Conflict – His mother says they don’t have room for a dog. Also, the series of smaller pets they get instead of a dog can’t do the things Peter wants them to do.
  • Resolution – After being asked about it continually and observing the lack of success Peter has attempting to make the other pets do the things he wants them to, Peter’s mother allows him to get a dog that does everything Peter wants it to do.

After going over the story structure with students, discuss the morals of the story, which are truly timeless.

III. Timeless Morals, Relationship/Relevance to Modern Times

  • Persistence is key to getting what you want. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again.
  • Just because you give something or someone a certain name or label, that does not change who or what the thing or person really is. A bird is a bird. A turtle is a turtle. Ultimately, in “All the Lassies,” each Lassie is accepted the way it really is.

IV. Other Lessons Taught

  • There’s always room for something you love. It doesn’t matter how “small” ones house or room may be. Adding a pet is adding love and happiness to ones life, and we can’t have too much of that.

V. Any Challenges the Stories May Present

  • Kids, even those as young as K-1 students, can be pretty persistent and manipulative about getting what they want these days—and I suppose they always have been. Be sure to relate this lesson to getting good grades in school or pursuing civic ambitions or sports or some activity at which they may be trying to succeed. That way, the focus isn’t simply on their frivolous wants a la: “hm…whatever I want, like being able to gab with my friends during class or get new clothes all the time in order to follow all the latest fashion fads or eat junk food all the time, I can get it, if I only continue to say I want it over and over and over again.”

Photo © Raycan

This post is part of the series: Vintage Tales, Timeless Values: Early Reader Book Reviews

These book reviews are of vintage (or somewhat older and obscure) tales that offer timeless moral lessons and may help educators teach early readers that “old stories” are not so boring. Nor are they so different from the “new” stories of their young lives.
  1. Vintage Book Review for K-1 English Teachers: The Little Red Flower
  2. Vintage Book Review for K-1 English Teachers: The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo
  3. Vintage Book Review for K-1 English Teachers: Belinda’s New Spring Hat
  4. Vintage Book Review for K-1 English Teachers: All the Lassies
  5. Vintage Book Review for K-1 English Teachers: Not This Bear!