Titles: If Only I Had A Green Nose and Best of All
Author: Max Lucado
Illustrator: Sergio Martinez
Target Audience: young children
Reading level: Can be read independently at approximately a 4th grade level, although it can also be read to younger child
Eli, the woodcarver
Punchinello and Lucia
Summary: In If Only I Had A Green Nose, the Wemmicks are obsessed with the "in" thing. At first, everyone is standing in line to have their noses painted green. As the story progresses, the popular nose color changes to yellow, orange, and many other colors. As the story opens, Punchinello and Lucia are in Eli's workshop, wondering why anyone would want to paint their nose. Eli's answer is, "Because everyone is." Punchinello is convinced to get his nose painted by some friends, but especially by Twiggy, a fellow Wemmick whom Punchinello likes. But Punchinello and his friends soon learn the foolishness of doing something only because everyone else is. They decide they want to be themselves again and return to Eli to ask for help. Although the sanding is painful, Punchinello and his friends are glad to be returned to the way their Maker made them.
In Best of All, the Wemmicks are happy to welcome Bess Stovall to Wemmicksville, looking for Wemmicks to join her "Wonderful Wemmicks Club." Bess Stovall is "the best of all" Wemmicks, and she's famous because everyone knows her (and everyone knows her because she's famous). Bess Stovall is obsessed with "ancest-tree"--what type of tree each Wemmick was made from, and from what forest. Some of the townspeople are made of walnut, pine, or elm while others are made of maple, which is the best (any guesses what Bess Stovall is made of? Anyone? That's right! Maple!) Lucia is even made from the same tree as Bess (which of course makes Lucia better than the other maple Wemmicks). One Wemmick is made of willow, which is the weakest wood, and therefore the worst--Punchinello. Before long, the Wemmicks are caught up in looking down on each other because of their "ancest-tree." Punchinello begins to feel sorry for himself until Eli reminds him that the Wemmick-maker knows better than the Wemmicks. Lucia has also talked to Eli and apologizes to Punchinello for listening to the other Wemmicks instead of Eli. The two Wemmicks walk back to town for Bess Stovall's send-off party. As Bess is leaving, she leans too far out her carriage window and falls over the bridge. Punchinello is the only Wemmick limber enough to rescue Bess (funny how she isn't worried about what type of wood she's touching when her life depends on it). Punchinello has a new respect from the other Wemmicks, who decide to stop worrying about "ancest-trees."
Review: Again, love Max Lucado's ability to put important truths on a child's level. Popularity is one of the most common problems today. How many people, even Christians, haven't done something stupid to try to be popular? But If . . . Nose shows that popularity isn't always easy--walking around with your nose in the air (how else will everyone see your popular painted nose?) makes it easy to bump into things. And when the definition of popular changes, it's difficult to keep up. Who decides what's popular anyway? Who put "Willy With-it" in charge? And, although it may hurt, it's always best to go back to your Maker and be what He wants you to be. Best of All also deals with a common problem--judging others. Often, people judge others about something over which they have no control (often skin color, gender, or disability, although not always). Best of All teaches that everyone is purposefully made by the Maker--in the Wemmicks case, with that specific wood. One wood is not better than another. If reading the Wemmicks series, Best of All also shows that everyone messes up from time to time. Although Lucia has followed Eli in the other books, she chooses to listen to Bess Stovall in this one and even begins ignoring Punchinello.
5 stars--Gourmet meal.
Great book. Nothing wrong whatsoever. It's pretty close to, "I don't think I could ever read anything better. " I think everyone should read this book. It is likely that very few books will get this rating.