Although beautiful and admired each autumn, Kirby the maple tree becomes discontent with his location in the grove. He decides to move out, and is somewhat surprised to find that he can actually take steps forward. However, he can only move forward, not sideways or backward, so eventually he is stuck. Kirby is very disappointed with this new location, as he can see what he perceives to be the perfect spot ahead of him, but it is unattainable. He is filled with sadness and regret until he finally looks behind him, realizing the beauty of his position in a busy and happy yard.
Positives: Kirby’s emotions, thoughts and journey provide many opportunities for us to relate real-life situations and the issue of being content. Like Kirby, we often see what we’re missing instead of being grateful for what we do have.
Negatives: For a younger child or one with a shorter attention span, the detailed description of Kirby’s inner turmoil may result in a loss of interest, as it slows down the story. However, for an older child or one who is more capable of giving attention to details, this may be very helpful. The way that Kirby’s emotions are described is very realistic.
Talking Points: At the conclusion of the book, Phil. 4:12-13 is quoted, as well as a note to parents from the author about thankfulness and contentment. Although the reason for Kirby’s discontentment is his location, there are numerous other situations that could benefit from this type of discussion. Some that come to mind are the way that God has made each one of us (our appearance, gifts/talents, personality, etc.), participation in various activities (sports, music, even school), and even a person’s role in their God-given family. Each of these areas has the potential for one to be discontent with it and to desire that things are different than they are. Psalm 119:73 speaks to the sovereignty of God as our Maker. Ultimately, our discontent with anything in life goes back to our relationship with God. If we trust Him to be who He says He is, than we know that He alone can and does determine how He makes us and what He gives or allows in our lives. His ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isa. 55:8-9). So when we are tempted to be discontent and grumble about anything (Phil. 2:14), it is an opportunity to recognize that there is a heart issue that needs to be dealt with – sin to be confessed, repentance made, and forgiveness received (1 John 1:9). “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Tim. 6:6) God’s purposes are greater than ours, and He chooses how He will accomplish His will through and in us (Eph. 2:10).
Age Level: 6 and up