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The book Terrible Things by Eve Bunting is an allegory  of the Holocaust. The story takes place in a clearing in the woods where various creatures live. The creatures all live contently together in the clearing until the day the Terrible Things come. First, the Terrible Things come for things with feathers, and everyone without feathers tries hard to show this fact. After the birds are gone from the clearing, taken by the Terrible Things, the rest of the animals discuss the negative aspects of the birds and how things in the clearing will be better without them. As the story continues, the same scenario happens with each set of animals, from the fish, to the squirrels, porcupines, and frogs, until one day the only creatures left in the clearing are the white rabbits. When the Terrible Things come for the rabbits, there is no one left to help them escape, and everyone except Little Rabbit is gone. In the end, Little Rabbit decides to go and try and tell others about the Terrible Things, hoping that people will listen. Most of all, I like the lesson of the book. Courage is a hard characteristic to come by, especially when the "enemy" is stronger or more powerful, as Bunting writes in the first pages of the book. It seems especially relevant to young lives, with the threats of peer pressure and the journey of determining right or wrong. However, although it can be hard to be courageous, the possible results of not acting could be devastating. Also, the illustrations fit the story well--there is no color.

 

I would like to use this book to introduce the theme of courage and discuss the holocaust. I haven't used it yet, but I was thinking of using a poem that is similar in content for the warm-up. However, I do also have a book of children's art from the Holocaust, which I might also use as an opener. Next, I would introduce other genocides, past and present, that students might not know about, such as Darfur, Rwanda, Armenia, etc. It would be interesting to ask the question: "Why do you think so many people know about the Holocaust, but not these other genocides?" In the end, I would like to connect the theme of courage to the Nuremberg Trials and how the key figures of the Holocaust were held responsible for their decisions. The students could be asked, after looking at specific examples, why did these people make the choices that they did?

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Replies to This Discussion

Hi Karen, I used to use this story with my 8th graders along with the poem called, "The Hangman."  Great review!
Thanks Desiree :) I really enjoy using this book, I will take a look at the poem you mentioned too.

Desiree said:
Hi Karen, I used to use this story with my 8th graders along with the poem called, "The Hangman."  Great review!

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