Challenging Assumptions!

We each bring our own assumptions to every story we tell and every story we hear. In a world filled with information, being able to challenge our own assumptions and independently evaluate available data are increasingly important life skills. Build these skills with the following three books, which each have a humorous take on the powers of assumption and logic.


Moose Tracks! by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jack E. Davis

Moose Tracks! by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jack E. Davis, follows an unidentified narrator as they try to identify the source of moose tracks on every surface (even a pie!) in their home. Like every young child— and many adults, for that matter— the narrator implicitly assumes that they are NOT the source of the mess. Each spread gives the reader a little more data as to the tracks’ source, and the final reveal shows a collection of characters conspiring with the reader to, quite literally, point a finger at the moose. I love reading this with my kids because the story is a fun read while also being a concrete example of how blind we can be to our own assumptions and how to logically solve a problem with the facts available.


One thing I’m fairly certain of— last night those tracks were NOT there.


There are moose tracks in my kitchen, and I’m itchin’ to know why! Some friends dropped over yesterday, but not one moose stopped by.


There are moose tracks in my bathroom. It’s an all-out mystery! If I only knew who left them, he could mop them up for me.


There are moose tracks in my bedroom. They are spattered all around. Noisy moose feet should have clattered, but I never heard a sound!


There are moose tracks on my back porch, in my kitchen and my den, in my bathroom and my bedroom— moose tracks everywhere I’ve been!


Why, look at me– I AM a moose and I don’t make a mess!



Read the Book, Lemmings! by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Zachariah OHora

Read the Book, Lemmings! by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Zachariah OHora, is a hilarious response to misinformation gone viral– the notion that lemmings willingly jump off cliffs in mindless droves. Turns out, this false information is rooted in a 1958 Disney documentary called White Wilderness wherein the mass suicide of lemmings was artificially created by the filmmakers and presented as fact. I love how the story hilariously highlights the absurdity of the mass suicide concept with dramatic, illiterate lemmings plummeting into arctic waters at the mere mention of the word “jump.” (The lemmings never listen to the whole sentence when a knowledgeable arctic fox tries to help by reading excerpts from “Everything About Lemmings.”) Emphasizing the importance of literacy, the lemmings discover they “don’t jump off cliffs” once able to read the book for themselves. Lessons abound: don’t assume information is factual just because its source claims as much; don’t assume someone has the same skillset as yourself, such as being able to read; don’t assume there’s nothing more to learn; and, of course, every parent’s favorite lesson— listen to the whole sentence!


Foxy found a quiet spot to read his book about lemmings. “Huh!” Foxy said. “Says here, lemmings don’t jump off cliffs.” JUMP? I’LL JUMP! said a lemming. ME TOO! said a second. DITTO! said a third.


“Huh!” said Captain BP. “Guess they didn’t read the book.” Foxy looked. WET! VERY WET! called the first lemming. ME TOO! called the second. DITTO! called the third. Foxy sighed. “Sir?” he asked. “May I borrow your bucket?” “Fine,” said Captain PB. “But your lemmings better not eat my fish.”


Foxy opened his book. READ THE BOOK, LEMMINGS! “Huh!” said the lemmings. “Exactly!” Foxy said. “The book says you don’t.” “Don’t?” asked Jumper. “Don’t what?” “Jump off cliffs,” Foxy said. JUMP? I’LL JUMP! said jumper. ME TOO! said Me Too. DITTO! said Ditto.


GERONIMO-O “You know…” said Captain PB. “I don’t think they read the book.” HELP! NEED HELP! called Jumper. ME TOO! called Me Too. DITTO! called Ditto.


WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? Foxy yelled. “The book says you don’t j—” Foxy stopped. “Just read the book, lemmings.” AHHHHHHHH said the lemmings. They took a look and returned the book. “Huh!” said Captain PB. “Good thing you didn’t say ‘jump’!” JUMP?


CAN’T! CAN’T READ! said Jumper. ME NEITHER! said Me Too. I CAN BURP THE ALPHABET! said Ditto. “Huh!” said Captain PB. “That’s a good start!” “I’ll teach you to read, lemmings,” Foxy promised.


LEMMINGS. DON’T JUMP. OFF CLIFFS! Foxy finally returned to his reading. But Captain PB could not. Where’s my paper?


The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach

The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach is a gorgeous and engrossing story about the fate of one delicious sandwich.  Told by a narrator who remains anonymous until the end, the main storyline is an elaborate lie as told by a culpable dog, as imagined by a little girl. Following a bear from its home in the forest to a San Franciscan park and the fated sandwich, the story is just fantastical enough for a young child to take pause— How did the truck driver not notice a bear? How did the bear wander a city unobstructed? How does a bear even get on a swing? The bear’s experiences in the city are seen through the eyes of someone who has never left the forest— assuming shingles are bark, light poles are trees and cement is mud— which creates opportunity to discuss how our biases are rooted in personal experience. And the ending is an excellent prompt to discuss the influence of motive on a narrator’s factual reliability. Bonus: It is a lighthearted way to point out that most lies can be exposed by available data— something my toddler is still working out.


By now I think you know what happened to your sandwich. But you may not know how it happened. So let me tell you. It all started with the bear.


After a berry feast, the bear curled up in the sunlight and listened to the buzzing of the bees. Before long, he was asleep.


This forest had many great climbing spots. The trees were still itchy here. There was good bark for scratching. And the mud squished nicely under his feet.


Leafy green smells led the bear to new fun. And that is when he saw it.


It was such a great sandwich. The bear loved it. But just as he was almost finished, he heard Sniff Snuffle Slobber Snort behind him.


From the top of the tree, the bear could see his forest. It was time to go home. The waves rocked the bear and he began to doze.


So. That’s what happened to your sandwich. The bear ate it.