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Hurty Feelings

Last updated Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Author: Helen Lester
Illustrator: Lynn Munsinger
Date of Publication: 2004
ISBN: 0618410821
Grade Level: 2nd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Aug. 2007

Synopsis: From Booklist: Despite her sturdy size and strength, Fragility the Hippo is a quivering bundle of insecurities. She perceives friends' innocent compliments as insults and quickly disintegrates into sobbing self-pity. It's no surprise that her friends grow weary of her theatrics and distance themselves. Then lonely Fragility stands up to the neighborhood bully, Rudy the Elephant, and the encounter gives her the confidence and perspective to hear sweetness rather than slights in her friends' remarks. Some children may have trouble following Fragility's delusional leaps as she twists compliments into insults, but Lester enhances the basic story about handling emotions with a satisfying slapstick humor that's beautifully extended in Munsinger's hilarious, wildly expressive illustrations of Fragility in all her moods. This is a good choice for read-aloud, but prepare for a chorus of listeners joining in with Fragility's whining refrain: "You hurt my feeeeelings!"

Note to readers:
•  Go over difficult vocabulary as you read. Vocabulary: fragile, wobbled, munch, injure, pudgy, weep, soggy, rude, trotted, gazed, cooed, loneliness, bellowed.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  How do you think the hippo feels? How can you tell? Do you ever feel like this?
•  Why do you think the hippo’s crying? What makes you cry?
•  Have you ever seen a hippo? Where?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Fragility is a solid piece of work. What do you think it means to be a solid piece of work? Is that a good thing or a bad thing, a compliment or an insult?
•  Do you think the other animals are trying to hurt Fragility feelings? Do you think Fragility understands what they’re saying?
•  Why do you think Fragility is lonely?
•  How do you feel when someone hurts your feelings? What things do people say that hurt your feelings?
•  Why does Fragility make a good goalie?
•  Is Rudy trying to hurt Fragility’s feelings? How does she deal with his insults?
•  How does Fragility feel at the end? What do you think happens next?
•  Have you ever made friends with someone who you thought was different than you?
•  Is this a happy ending or a sad ending? Do you think Rudy learned his lesson? Will he still be a bully?

Craft ideas:
•  Elephant puppet with paper bag. Use construction paper to make ears and a trunk. Attach them to the paper bag. Use the puppet (along with the hippo puppet) to act out the story.
•  Hippo puppet with paper bag. Use construction paper to make ears and teeth. Attach them to the paper bag. Use the puppet (along with the elephant puppet) to act out the story.
•  Elephant paper plate. Use construction paper to make ears and a trunk. Draw on the face.

*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!