Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper

“Little Fuzzy” is one of only two children’s books I have held onto for my adult life, and like the other one I’ve added to my permanent library, I held onto it because it beautifully places complicated and nuanced issues in front of young children who otherwise would be reading cute (but tiring) morality tales a la ‘Frog and Toad.’

Fundamentally, this book revolves around the question of to whom do we, as moral beings, owe duties? It is easy to look at your neighbor and agree that it would violate a moral duty if you were to stab him to death in cold blood. It is easy enough to think the same thing about killing a human being on the opposite side of the world by pressing a button that launches a missle from the seat of your government. What about those beings normally outside of our moral intuitions, though? Ultimately, what we must ask ourselves, and answer, and what this book places before children in their first one or two years in elementary school is the question, “Do non-humans count?”

I laud this book, not only for being a good story with adorable illustrations and supporting an ethical principle with which I personally agree, but with having the temerity to trust that young children are capable of at the very least receiving a controversial question about which to ponder and sort out their feelings.

For those of us who can recall with fondness the song lyrics which espoused, “I believe the children are our future,” it is simply shocking that more books aimed at the very young have never amounted to more than ‘See Spot Run’.

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