Chocrotes and the World Without Question by Steve Berkowitz
(Summary taken from an email the author sent me)
The allegorical story, Chocrotes and the World Without Question, explores the power of questions, and references ideas around tyranny, revolutionary movements, freedom of speech, and educational philosophy. For as long as civilization has existed, people have longed to be free. The struggle for freedom continues to this very day in countries around the world. Chocrotes and the World Without Question provides a timeless lesson that can help introduce young people to the events that are unfolding in our modern world. While there are deeper meanings and lessons tucked away in the pages of the book, the youth of the world will enjoy Chocrotes and the World Without Question’s ability to make them smile and laugh.
The setting for this book is a fantasy world inhabited strictly by Chickens. In this far off world, the Chickens live in fear of an evil King: Doodle Doo. This evil king, having usurped the throne from a Queen and King who believed in the power of questions and love, Doodle Doo turns the Chicken world upside down and destroys thousands of lives in the process.
Chocrotes is born during Doodle Doo’s reign and is raised by a scientist and professor of roostory, who believe in the power of questioning. Chocrotes believes strongly that his peaceful world has been uprooted by a fascist regime. Throughout his life Chocrotes asks questions, even though he is warned not to. It is not long before he is banished for daring to question a professor, and exiled to an island in the far reaches of the kingdom. It is there he develops a philosophical creed by which to live freely, and to inspire his fellow hens and roosters to rise up against a hateful dictator. After many years Marco Pollo, an old childhood friend, rescues Chocrotes from his island of isolation and helps return him to the world without question. Chocrotes gathers together his fellow Chickens to stand and fight against the evil king.
Chocrotes and the World Without Question was initially created as a final project at Lesley University for a graduate class, Arts and Education: History and Philosophy. I am a Masters of Education candidate with a focus on Elementary Education. My experiences in the classroom, both as a student and a teacher, have shown me how much students truly enjoy asking questions, how questions are asked constantly in their daily lives, and how curious children really are in general. I feel this story could help students understand the power of questioning to make sense of their small and large worlds. With the power of question, a person, or a Chicken can accomplish anything.
This short story is actually a modern day fable! It's been a long time since I read Aesop's fables in elementary school, and this story brings a modern day lesson to the forefront. Yesterday my son was struggling with piano and didn't want to ask his teacher any questions on how to do it better. Learning that it is okay to ask questions is a big step in each child's life. A lot of kids don't have this problem and ask a million questions a day, while others are afraid. There is a good lesson on why it is good, and important, to ask questions about lots of things. If we don't question then we don't think for ourselves.
I enjoyed this story. It's a quick 33 pages and is easy to read. It's clean, except for an evil leader who kills those who ask questions. (There aren't really any details about how those chickens die, you just know they do.) This is a great resource for teachers, especially of the older grades. It's also a good resource for parents.
Rating: PG (It's clean, but is probably better for kids who are a little older.)
Recommendation: 3rd Grade and up. I think this age group and up will better be able to understand the symbolism and the lesson.
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.