What is it about preschool that has my five-year-old in a constant race against the world around her?
“I brushed my teeth the best.”
“I got here before you. I’m the fastest!”
“I won Candyland two times! I’m the winningest winner and you are the next winner, well you lose, but you did your best.”
After hearing my daughter use the latter phrase, I realized that while we have been trying to teach her to be a good winner (or loser), it just wasn’t sinking in. Until, that is, we sat down to read Hoppelpopp and the Best Bunny by Mira Lobe.
The premise is pretty cut and dry. Five little bunnies live together in equal happiness until a big bunny, named Hoppelpopp, comes along and challenges them all to discover who is the best. As they discover who is the fastest, strongest, smartest, bravest, or not the best at anything, they start to fight–and end up not being friends anymore.
When a true threat comes, in the form of a badger, the bunnies must think quick and work together to be safe. In working together, they discover that they are equally best, and go back to the way things were. Hoppelpopp goes away and all is well.
The first time I read this gem of a book, I immediately hated it. It is really wordy, and the pictures were a bit strange. But as always, I tried to keep my personal judgement to myself to see how the kids would take it. After the first reading, my daughter sat thinking for quite some time, then it was off for her afternoon nap. I thought, “Yes! I will never have to suffer through Hoppelpopp again!”
Later, at bedtime, I tell her to grab some books and sit on the couch while I get her milk. And which book does she bring to the couch? Hoppelpopp.
This has been happening consistently since we checked the book out from the library a week ago. And each time we read it, I try to talk about the situations the bunnies face.
We’ve discussed being the fastest, strongest, smartest, bravest, and not best at anything. We’ve talked about how much fun the bunnies have doing things together, and how Hoppelpopp changes their way of thinking. We’ve talked about how brothers and sisters can have a fight or argument (or perhaps a bawling, overtired, overdramatic super-meltdown over something completely ridiculous), but then recover and continue working together.
The best part of all of this discussion is that the “I’m the best!” situations have been less and less. Fading into the distance, just like Hoppelpopp!
Another great book about this topic is Lucy Cousins aptly titled picture book, I’m the Best. Although it didn’t have the same effect as Hoppelpopp, it is a family favorite as well.