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The Three Robbers



Last updated Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Author: Tomi Ungerer
Illustrator: Tomi Ungerer
Date of Publication: 2009
ISBN: 0714848778
Grade Level: 3rd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Oct. 2010

Synopsis: In Ungerer's (Crictor; Moon Man) first children's book in 25 years, a delightfully witty and lighthearted look at race relations, a cat couple is startled to discover that their newborn is a dog. (This "genetic mishap" is traced to a great-grandmother's secret marriage to a pug.) The doting parents bring up squat, jowly, wrinkly-faced Flix to climb trees and eat fried mice and pickled canaries. Under the tutelage of his basset hound godfather, the pup also learns pride in his canine heritage and masters the dog language. Flix's combined talents win him the respect of both communities, the love of a French exchange-student poodle and eventually a career in politics, in which he campaigns to end cat-dog segregation. Ungerer celebrates the versatility and perspective Flix gains from his mixed ancestry while still acknowledging the hardship of not fitting in. His lively illustrations, which feature highly expressive and individualized faces, are more supple and playful than in earlier books. The accomplished artwork brims with funny touches such as a rat-crossing sign in Cattown (speed up!) and a monument to Laika (the first dog to orbit in space) in Dogtown; more pointed details include the no-dogs-allowed sign in a posh Cattown restaurant. Ungerer's return to the field will be welcomed by all who discover this charming addition to his oeuvre, but will be especially appreciated by children growing up in more than one cultural tradition.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  After the picture walk as you look at the cover, who or what are the three on the cover?
•  Do they look friendly?
•  What are “robbers”? (people who steal) Are “robbers” good or bad?
•  Do you know the story of Robin Hood?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Why are people afraid of the “robbers” before they did anything? (the way they dressed, the weapons)
•  Why did they save the little girl and the other children?
•  Were there other ways to save the children without stealing money?
•  Are the robbers good or bad? How are they good? How are they bad?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a mask to hide your face.
•  Finish the story and show what happened in the village they created. Draw or write about the good things the children and the robbers did.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!