The book that I selected to review was Clifford’s Good Deeds written by Norman Bridwell .  This book is about a girl named Emily Elizabeth and her big red dog Clifford.  Emily’s neighborhood friend, Tim, who lives across the street, says that he tries to do “a good deed every day.”(Bridwell)  He then goes on to suggest that if he had Clifford, he would be able to help more people. So they decide to work together with the use of Emily’s dog, Clifford, and set out on a journey around the town to help people.  Every good deed they attempt goes wrong in one way or another. They try to help a neighbor rake leaves and put in the back of a truck but Clifford sneezes and the leaves go everywhere. Then they try to help someone paint a fence but Clifford hits the paint bucket with his tail and it goes all over the house.  After the failed attempts at helping, they head home and notice a house that is on fire.  Finally a good deed turns out well for them as they are able to get the people out of the house safely and even put the fire out before the fire trucks arrive.  I do like the way it is written.  I think it allows the child to understand that all deeds may not be noticed but that there is a rewarding feeling knowing that you can help others without expecting something in return.  This book is very appropriate for children and contains nothing that would categorize it as sexist, egocentric or pornographic.  It is a simple book with beautiful illustrations that are fun and one that shows that neither Tim or Emily are being self- centered but realize that it is important to do things together so it is absent of egocentricity.

The fact that the deeds that contain mishaps does not deter them from continuing to try, compares to the enlightenment because it shows their maturity and gives a glimpse of adulthood ways.  In fact, they continue doing good deeds until finally they assist successfully.  Each time the initial attempts at doing good deeds fail, the children and Clifford keep trying and their perseverance pays off in the end.   This also is in contrast to the Enlightenment because it shows that children are not chastised and treated as adults when things don’t go right.  It also shows that they are allowed to have this time as children to explore the world and model some of the good examples that have been set before them.  The children in Clifford’s Good Deeds are not even treated poorly by the recipients of the deeds when the deeds go sorely wrong.  They are just asked to move along to the next stop.  There is no punishment for their failed attempts as was depicted in the Enlightenment.  In addition, when the children and Clifford do their final good deed and make the big rescue, they are treated as heroes, including a medal of honor given them by the mayor. John Locke explains that “Manners, as they call it, about which children are so often perplex’d, and have so many goodly exhortations made them by their wise maids and governesses, I think, are rather to be learnt by example than rules.(Locke ). This relates to the book in that when they are finished with painting the fence they lady responded to them with a thank you. This was something the children learned by example. Relating to the article written by strasburger he relays the fact that children are sometime freighted by the appearance of certain creatures.  “The types of stories that most often upset children younger than 7 involve animals or distorted-looking characters such as ghosts and witches”(Strasburger). This is a contrast in the book I choose because children are not upset when they see the big red dog.   Blake writes” and I made a rural pen, and I stained the water clear, And I wrote my happy songs Every child may joy to hear”.(Blake)



One thought on “Clifford

  1. Miles,

    First of all, I apologize that it has taken so long to grade your paper. There have been some communication issues within my group but that is no excuse to make you wait so long. So again, I’m sorry.

    This is a great job. It meets all the requirements in the writing prompt and you really spent some time exploring the elements of this book. You connected this modern story to the readings for the Enlightenment convincingly and provided good proof for your arguments.

    I would disagree with you on one point. At one point, you referred to this book as simple. I do not feel that any books are ‘simple’ even when they are intended to be so. Every author brings something to the table that not even they are fully aware of. Humans are complex creatures and even the act of filtering stories down to children can be an intricate process that speaks volumes, even if its through the words that are not being said.

    Overall, great job.
    Grade: S

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