Children’s books are meant to entertain children, aside from teaching them how to read, understand sentences, recognize pictures, and hone their imaginations. However, children’s books do have another purpose, and that is to help kids experience different sorts of emotions and situations by “travelling” through them in books. Arthur’s Underwear by Marc Brown is a perfect example of travelling through emotions and situations. In this book, children get acquainted with the idea and feeling of embarrassment, and how to overcome it.
Just as Binky Barnes was picking up his piece of chalk from the floor to solve a math problem in class, his pants rip open to reveal his underwear. Laughter ensues from the class as the other kids make fun of Binky and his unexpected exposure. After this incident, Arthur is having nightmares himself, of actually forgetting to put on his pants. He hopes he’ll never have to go through embarrassment like that himself.
One day in the cafeteria, something unwanted happens: Arthur’s pants rip open too! This leaves him in the same situation as Binky. While getting his pants sewn back together, he contemplates on moving to a new school to save face. Mrs. Mac Grady helps him out and tells him that even though this happened to him, he is still the Arthur that everyone knows and loves. He realizes he’ll get through it, and that he’s not the only one who has to go through embarrassing situations.
A Book that Speaks Reality
One of the ingenious points of the book is that it has the relatable factor. Marc Brown has done an excellent job of depicting how a child’s worst fears are materialized in their dreams and nightmares. When the nightmares actually happen in school, Arthur thinks he won’t be able to recover. But the book does a good job of assuring kids that no matter what happens, it will soon be forgotten and who they are won’t ever change. They will continue to be loved and appreciated for who they really are despite that embarrassments that they encounter.
Keeping Things Familiar
Marc Brown once again delivers an excellent story about Arthur the aardvark and his other animal friends. His signature sense of whimsy is still there, with characters depicted as animals but with human bodies. It’s a great way of showing kids how each one is different in their own way, yet still lovable and special. The illustrations are adorable and fun and help children cultivate their imaginations, as all Arthur books do.
A Book Well Worth It
Arthur’s Underwear is a great story on embarrassment and how kids can overcome it. Any embarrassing situation will probably be paralyzing for children at first, but in the end, it will all fade away. It’s a great medium for teaching them that one bad situation won’t change the real person.
- Reading level: Ages 4 and up
- Paperback: 32 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (September 1, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0316106194