I have enjoyed watching teachers’ faces as they read Tadpole’s Promise by Tony Ross and Jeanne Willis. Usually they are shocked as the book lulls us into a false sense of security thinking that there is a happy ending. Even the bubbles on the front cover lead us this way. But in a tragedy, of course, there isn’t a happy ending.
In this story Caterpillar and Tadpole meet and fall in love and promise never to change which of course sets up the whole story as all children know that both will. It is these changes that lead to a tragedy for both but in different ways.
Christopher Booker’s description of tragedy is:
- The hero looks for something. He finds it and focuses his energy on it.
- He aims for this thing and all seems well.
- Things start to go wrong and may begin to behave darkly.
- Things start to slip out of control badly.
- The hero is destroyed.
One of the discussions the book can lead us to is that there is more than one story in here. There is the story of the caterpillar and of the tadpole. When using the blueprint it is important that you decide who the hero is. This is not hero in the sense of having super powers and saving all – rather the main character that you want to follow.
Have you shared these patterns with children?