THE NATURE OF THE BEAST
by JAN CARR
Attention, young scientists!
When Isabelle finds a crisp dollar bill on the sidewalk, she decides to buy a pet. But the only pet on sale is Beast. Mom’s not happy with Beast in the house, but Dad thinks it could be a good science project. He hands Isabelle a notebook and instructs her to write down everything she observes about his behavior. “Likes to nap in the chandelier,” writes Isabelle. “Likes ketchup. Moos for more.” Beast is Beastly! Will Mom let Beast stay?
How's this for cool? Sixteen years after Beast came out, I finally got to meet the illustrator, G. Brian Karas!
WHY I WROTE THIS BOOK
I like science. I like information about animal behavior. I like keeping journals.
And I like the idea of a big, furry Beast wreaking havoc in an otherwise organized household.
Interesting tidbit: When my son was in middle school, his science class went to the zoo to observe animals. They were given strict instructions by their excellent science teacher (We love you, Clover!) to write down only observable behavior. For example, they could write, "The chimpanzee yawned." But they couldn't write, "The chimpanzee felt sleepy." That would've been subjective, something they might infer from the behavior, but not the behavior itself.
In my book, most of the behaviors that Isabelle writes down are objectively observed, "Spits on paw ten times exactly, then lathers up his fur." But the last entry, "Beast is happy," is completely subjective. And my son felt compelled to alert me to this after his trip to the zoo.
But of course a story is a story, and mine needed a happy ending.
C'est la vie!