Story Synopsis and Questions: “How Chipmunk Got his Stripes.”
The narrative by Bruchac (2003) is set in the forest during the autumn and features a large and strong bear, and a small but cheeky Brown Squirrel as its main characters. The Bear is a braggart who is keen to let all animals be aware of his traits. Brown Squirrel is a mischievous animal who cannot stand the Bear’s braggadocio. Their contrasting traits of pride and mischief set the stage for an interesting tale, which highlights the evils of bragging and teasing, in a narration that is strengthen by vivid graphical illustrations.
At the start of the narrative, the reader is introduced to the bear who is walking around bragging about his size, strength and vocal capabilities (Bruchac, 2003). The bear does not stop at the description of his qualities but goes ahead to claim that he can do anything. The Brown Squirrel enters the scene at this stage, challenging the Bear that if his claim that he can do anything were true, he ought to command the sun not to rise the following morning (Bruchac, 2003). Despite not having done such a feat before, the bear is not keen to accept defeat at the hands of a small squirrel and thus takes up the challenge. What follows is a night of back and forth with the bear chanting that “The sun will not come up, hummph” and the squirrel responding that “The sun is going to rise, oooh” (Bruchac, 2003). This attracts curious animals who are keen to find out who will be right. The squirrel wins this round, since the sun rises as usual the following morning. Not being one to enjoy his ‘win’ silently, Brown Squirrel taunts the Bear calling him stupid, foolish and silly. This annoys the bear who grasps the squirrel under his claws ready to eat him, but the squirrel promises to apologize if the bear releases him. However, on his release, the squirrel does not apologize but runs away. The bear chases and manages to catch up with him but the squirrel manages to escape albeit with scratches on his back. After healing, the scratches become the long, black stripes that characterize the modern Chipmunk.
Introduction to new Vocabulary
When teaching children at elementary level, the following vocabulary could be explained using the graphics that are represented in the story, the story’s narration, and other teaching aids.
Bear – a big black animal that lives in the forest
Squirrel – a small animal that lives in or on the ground
Chipmunk – Striped squirrel
Claws – the structures at the end of the bear’s toes
Sun – what brought the light the following day
Black – color of the bear
Brown – color of the squirrel before tricking the bear
Brag – behavior of the bear that encourages the squirrel to challenge him
Tease – behavior of the squirrel that encourages the bear to take his challenge and the squirrel’s behavior after the sun rises the following day
Anger – behavior of the bear after the squirrel teases him
Trick – behavior of the squirrel that leads to the bear releasing him
Scratch – marks that the bear makes on the skin of the squirrel as the squirrel escapes
Stripes – black lines that appear on the squirrel’s body after the scratches heal
Questions for the Reading
|Level||Pre-reading Questions||Questions during reading||Post-reading Questions|
Bruchac, J. (2003). How Chipmunk Got his Stripes: A Tale of Bragging and Teasing. St. Louis, MO: Turtleback Books.
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