The exquisite illustrations in Gecko’s Complaint bring colorful life to the retelling of a Balinese folktale. Its bilingual presentation in both English and Indonesian is a wonderful bonus. In her introduction, author Ann Martin Bowler also introduces the reader to some facts about Indonesia and, particularly, Bali. I guess everyone knows that over 18,000 islands comprise Indonesia. Everyone but me (but now I know! Isn’t reading terrific?).
Gecko’s Complaint is about a lovely, fat gecko that lives in a jungle so lush with life that he need barely move to get more than enough to eat. Gecko was not the most considerate neighbor, and often disturbed others with his late evening ramblings. Gecko wasn’t totally thrilled with his neighbors, either, for sometimes they did things that would disturb him. One night he’d taken more than he could stand from the fireflies and woke Raden the lion, complaining he couldn’t sleep. The lion answered, “Well, we seem to have the same problem. The fireflies disturb you, and you disturb me.”
Having promised Gecko that he would look into it, the next day Raden questioned the fireflies about their nocturnal activities. They responded by blaming another animal, who blamed another, who blamed another…well, you get the picture…until the water buffalo blamed the rain. Raden climbed a mountain intent on questioning the rain. However, he saw the beauty that surrounded him and, enjoying the rain and the wind, he realized both that the rain was not at fault and everyone should appreciate the rain. Raden returned to the jungle and proceeded to let all the animals know that he was tired of their complaining, they should be grateful for what they have.
What a wonderful story to share with a child! Books that offer opportunities to discuss issues and values can enrich our relationships, especially with our children. Gecko’s Complaint suggests topics such as complaining, gratitude, blaming, and cooperation. Gecko’s Complaint is recommended for pre-school to second grade and is at a nine- to twelve-year-old reading level. It is especially appropriate for adult readers to share with younger children who will enjoy the bright illustrations of various animals living in the jungle. Bottom Line: Would I buy Gecko’s Complaint? Yes, it’s a handsome volume for children.