Be Who You Are Perfectly: A Review of ‘Chrysanthemum’

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” – Mother Teresa

Reading level   

Grades 1-2

Common Core  

Grade 2

Interest level

P-3

Review and Comments

Choosing a name for a child can be quite a challenging decision for parents.  Mr. and Mrs. Mouse considered this obligation thoughtfully and chose the name that was “absolutely perfect” for their new precious baby.  They named her Chrysanthemum – the perfect name for their perfect daughter.   As Chrysanthemum grew, she too found her name to be perfect whether it was written or spoken.  As a matter of fact, she often repeated it to herself because she liked the sound of it so much.

When it was time for Chrysanthemum to start school, she was very excited and full of enthusiasm as most children are.  The first time her class heard her name however, they laughed.  Some students, three girls in particular, continuously made comments about her name and thought of different ways to tell her it was unusual and weird.  Unfortunately, Chrysanthemum listened to the harsh comments of the girls and it wasn’t long before she didn’t think her name was perfect anymore.  She even had the drastic thought that she should change her name.  Alas, the next day of school was not any better.  The three girls treated her the same way, and she felt truly dreadful. She shared all of this with her parents and they assured her that her name was indeed absolutely perfect and then tried to help her see why those girls would say such hurtful things.

Soon the class met their new, simply marvelous music teacher.  During class, Chrysanthemum just “wilted” when she heard more insensitive comments about her name.  Good news!  This time the teacher completely transformed the distressing situation when she told the class that she also had a long flower name  – Delphinium.   After that simple statement, Chrysanthemum “bloomed”, and the three girls changed their attitude.  Everything was once again perfect, especially Chrysanthemum’s name.

Possible Concerns

Three girls in Chrysanthemum’s class constantly make rude comments about her name.  This bad example can become a worthwhile lesson about respect and love of neighbor.

Further Discussion

Art Activities:

  • Draw a picture of yourself. This can be an outline form or an individual picture.  Under the portrait, write the words from Genesis 1:31 “God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good.”  Or use this quote as the title on a bulletin board with all the children’s portraits displayed.

Antonyms:

There are many emotions mentioned in this story as Chrysanthemum experiences highs and lows. It is a good opportunity to practice antonyms:

  • happy/sad
  • joyful/gloomy
  • disrespectful/polite
  • supportive/disproving
  • mean/kind
  • excited/indifferent
  • nightmare/reality
  • perfect/flawed

Questions:

  • If you could have any flower name, what would you choose and why?
  • What would you do if you heard the girls’ comments to Chrysanthemum?
  • Why didn’t Chrysanthemum like her name after the girls made rude comments?
  • What do you think Chrysanthemum should have done when she heard the comments?
  • What would you say to Chrysanthemum to make her feel better?

“Words have meaning and names have power.” – Author unknown

  • Chrysanthemum: gold flower; One of the rarest of the flower names, that of the blossom celebrated in Japan as a symbol of the sun and a possible object of meditation. 
  • Consider the meanings of the names of the three girls who taunted Chrysanthemum: Jo – God is gracious; Rita – Pearl; Victoria –victory or conquer
  • Find the meaning of your name.
  • Use the name Chrysanthemum or Delphinium to make as many new words as possible.

Resources for extension activities:

Catholic Resources

Catholic resources with bullying prevention information:

  • An article from the Catholic Education Resource Center entitled “Prevent Bullying, Promote Kindness: 20 Things All Schools Can Do” has valuable information. There are also links to other related articles. Beware it is a tough read at the beginning, but it does include two practical sections:  10 Schoolwide and 10 Classroom Strategies to “help create a culture of kindness and respect. “
  • Information about “Peace Be with You: Christ-Centered Bullying Solution,” the first Scripture based program focused on preventing bullying, can be found at http://peacebewithyou.world/. The entire curriculum can be purchased through Amazon.
  • This article has a wealth of information for parents and teachers. “Children’s Literature and Character Development by Dr. Joy Mosher, Professor of Education: “Books are also a wonderful opportunity to explore the three components of character: moral knowing, moral feeling, and moral action.” – http://www2.cortland.edu/dotAsset/199292.pdf

“In ‘Gaudium et Spes,’ the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Pope Paul VI enjoined Catholics to respect the dignity of all human persons by reminding us that ‘by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man.’  It also stated ‘this council lays stress on reverence for man; everyone must consider his every neighbor without exception as another self, taking into account first of all His life and the means necessary to living it with dignity.’”

Romans 13:9-10 – “…and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this saying, [namely] ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.”

 

 

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