The Big Red Object tells the story of what happens when an animal community encounters a mysterious object.
Baby Rabbit sneaks out one day to play while his Moma and Popa are sleeping. He soon encounters a big red object unfamiliar to him (readers will recognize it as a shoe). He touches it, sniffs it, and decides to take it home. He shows it to his Moma and Popa, and to a neighbor. All are baffled.
Then the rabbit family goes out to try to solve the mystery, showing the object to their friends. Mr. Squirrel asks, “Can you live in it?” Ms. Skunk asks, “Can you wear it?” Brother Raccoon gets his face stuck inside of it. When a large human hand finally comes down to retrieve the shoe, wise Mr. Owl finally explains the object’s use.
Since young readers will immediately identify the object as a shoe, the real story is not the mystery but rather the way the animals work together to solve the problem. As the author suggests on the back cover, this story is at heart about curiosity and community. It’s enhanced by full-color illustrations that brightly depict the action.
This is an excellent conceit, but the narrative can be problematic. The pages are dense with text that will likely seem daunting to young readers. Overly wordy, the story becomes tiresome and could easily be trimmed to a more manageable length.
In addition, the ending is a letdown. After all the ballyhoo, the narrator asks readers: “Do you know what the big red object is and what it is used for?” Since readers will surely know a shoe’s use before coming to the story, the question seems superfluous. A better ending would have somehow involved the story’s larger message of cooperation.
While the book admirably aims to demonstrate the importance of cooperation and mutual problem solving, judicious trimming and a revised ending would make it a much more satisfying read.
Also available as an ebook.