Perhaps it’s just our tendency to anthropomorphize every animal we draw in a picture book. Or perhaps the theory that early humans really evolved as prey species more than predators holds water and we have some innate loyalty for the home team despite our actual omnivorous ways.
But I’ve got to say that the number of stories in which a carnivorous animal that is just filling its ecological niche is made into a evil (or somehow, even worse, greedy) villain of the story is starting to bug me.
Guess what? The Tawny Scrawny Lion would actually not be able to survive on carrot soup, no matter how delicious. T-Rex wouldn’t get by on water weeds. And for goodness sakes, let the poor frog in a bog eat as many ticks and flies and slugs as he wants. Are you crazy?
Bug-eating at least (though certainly the easiest form of carnivory for us to handle) gets a nice treatment in Janet Perlman’s upcoming The Delicious Bug (which is also a good sharing story), as well as in the classic Be Nice to Spiders. Otherwise, sympathetic portrayals of the full food chain come mostly from non-fiction.
Now, it’s not like I’m seeking gory nature-red-in-tooth-and-claw books for my toddler. I guess I’d just like the “natural order of the world is bad” theme to take a break.
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