Anyhow, I thought it was time to share a book I found last year called Don't Eat The Bluebonnets by Ellen Leventhan and Ellen Rothberg, and illustrated by Bill Megenhardt.
Sue Ellen isn't like the rest of the cows. She doesn't like to follow orders, especially when they come from Max, the Longhorn:
Every spring Max puts up a sign in Sue Ellen and Lisa Jean's favorite pasture.
The sign said: DON'T EAT THE BLUEBONNETS
"Humph," Sue Ellen said. "Max is not the boss of me. He can't tell me what to do." With that she hooked tails with Lisa Jean and they sashayed across the field.
"I can eat the bluebonnets if I want to," she snorted.
"The bluebonnets won't come back next spring if you eat them," Lisa Jean warned.
"But we eat the grass, and it comes back," Sue Ellen argued.
"That's true," replied Lisa Jean, "but bluebonnets are different. They won't come back."
Having a mind of her own, Sue Ellen wasn't totally convinced. The next day when Sue Ellen and Lisa Jean arrived at the south pasture, the bluebonnets were just starting to pop up. Sue Ellen's mouth watered.
Lisa Jean reminds Sue Ellen about not eating the bluebonnets. She's just looking at them. Don't eat the bluebonnets. She's just smelling them. Don't eat the bluebonnets. She's just licking them.
She tells Lisa Jean that the water in the pond comes back each year, and so do the leaves on the trees. And, the birds come back, too.
By the end of the week the bluebonnets covered the pasture and Sue Ellen couldn't stop thinking about them.
...she charged into the south pasture and ate every single bluebonnet.
Max comes to Sue Ellen with a bag of bluebonnet seeds, saying someone ate all the bluebonnets. Sue Ellen isn't concerned. She's convinced they'll come back next year on their own. She doesn't believe Max when he tells her that sometimes, nature needs a little help.
Spring passes, then summer, fall and winter. Finally, it is springtime again. But, when they get to the south pasture, there are no bluebonnets. Max tells Sue Ellen that he doesn't need to put his sign up this year. All the other cows are unhappy with Sue Ellen.
She thinks she can fix it herself. She moves some bluebonnets from another pasture, but they wilt. She tried painting bluebonnets onto the bales of hay, but the other cows eat the hay. She tries making individual bluebonnets with her paints, and construction paper and scissors, but they washed away in a rain storm.
So, having a mind of her own, Sue Ellen decided to take charge. That night she went to the south pasture and planted a packet of Max's seeds she had found in the barn.
The next spring, she fixed up Max's sign and asked him to put it out in the south pasture, but he didn't because he didn't think the bluebonnets would be back. So, Sue Ellen took the sign herself.
It wasn't long before their favorite pasture was beautiful again. Having a mind of her own, Sue Ellen decided she could
...look at the bluebonnets
...smell the bluebonnets
...lick the bluebonnets...
but she could not eat the bluebonnets.
This picture book is great for using with any elementary school aged child. The little ones will like the story, and it can also be used as a teaching tool for the older ones. At the back of the book, there is information about those who helped bring us this book. In addition, there are "Authors' Notes" which includes:
Although there is no specific law protecting bluebonnets, everyone from schoolchildren to groundskeepers know the importance of preserving nature, so although you make look at the bluebonnets, sit among the bluebonnets, and even photograph the bluebonnets, please don't ever pick the bluebonnets.
While cows can eat bluebonnets without harm, they can sometimes be toxic to other animals including humans.
There is a lesson about being environmentally responsible: just a simple lesson about caring for a natural resource, without getting into issues such as global warming or, as is more commonly heard these days, "climate change". It can be used in a lesson about the life cycle of plants: why didn't the bluebonnets grow back after Sue Ellen ate them all? It can also be used in illustrating cause and effect. What happens after Sue Ellen eats all the bluebonnets? What happens are Sue Ellen plants the bluebonnet seeds?
Although this book might be hard to find (Barnes & Noble seems to carry it as a new item online, but Amazon.com appears to only have used copies available), I recommend this book. I love the illustrations, and it's just a cute story ;-)