Barny was the first gorilla born at The Roxbury Zoo and he feels very comfortable in this place of importance. As in any young ones life though, changes are bound to happen. First, his big brother makes friends with the new girl gorilla that moves in, then a new baby gorilla is born at the zoo. As Barny’s world is turned upside down, his mother, in particular, is there to remind him that he will always be loved by, and very important to her.
Positives: Young readers will love the fact that they can read a “chapter book” and will find the full-color illustrations very inviting. The story line is simple and something every kid can relate to. This would be a great book to read in anticipation of a new family member arriving. I liked at the end when Barny decided that he wanted to make the new baby gorilla feel welcome.
Negatives: Barny is very self-focused and while at the end he does want the new baby to feel welcome, there was never any regret or consequences for his temper tantrums, jealousy and anger. At times his pouting and bad attitude are rationalized, he believes he has a good reason to be mad. This wrong thought process is never addressed.
This story will provide great opportunities to discuss what Jesus desires of our attitudes and how we handle our emotions, like jealousy and anger,when circumstances in life change, or we don’t get our way. We can also learn of the importance of being a caring family member, of being selfless and caring for others, as Christ would have us do. Scriptures to point your child to would include Phil. 2:3-4; 14-15, Gal. 5:19-23. I would also use Mark 12:28-31 to discuss our love for God and others. While our primary love is God, we are called to love others "as ourselves", considering them as more important than ourselves.