“We certainly won’t win THE VERY FINEST NEIGHBORHOOD CONTEST with that awful little house on our street”, shouted Mr. Brown. It should be torn down!” – Mrs. Murphy’s Marvelous Mansion
Mrs. Murphy and her dog Pickles live in an unusual little house situated at the very center of town. It was so small, her neighbors always watched in amazement when she entered her abode—wondering how in the world she could move around once she got inside! Her unusual house made the neighbors so uncomfortable, they tried to pretend it wasn’t there.
That is, until the VERY FINEST NEIGHBORHOOD CONTEST.
The neighbors gathered around, offering ideas to improve the neighborhood—to make it more beautiful. Mrs. Green suggested planting trees and flowers along the sidewalks while Mr. Gold wanted to include a magnificent gold statue.
“What very fine ideas”, observed Mrs. Murphy with a cheerful smile.
However, as soon as Mrs. Murphy walked away, the neighbors began talking about Mrs. Murphy’s house, calling it ugly—and Mr. Brown shouting that it be torn down!
Fueled by mob energy, they accost Mrs. Murphy and tell her that her doesn’t belong on “their” very fine street—and shouted that her dreadful house has got to go!
Unruffled, the good-natured, but surprised, Mrs. Murphy answers that her house is very fine indeed, and that they were invited to join her tomorrow for lunch to see for themselves.
What follows in this delightful story is a lesson about not judging people (or houses) from the outside, and re-evaluating what makes something “fine” or “beautiful”. Instead of answering her snobbish neighbors with defensiveness or trading insults, Mrs. Murphy takes the high road—and her kindness shines in stark relief to the neighbors’ narrow-minded cruelty.
Mrs. Murphy’s Mansion, superbly written by Emma Perry Roberts and outrageously illustrated by Robert Rogalski, conveys the importance of not judging by appearances, as well as the power of kindness. The illustrations are absolutely delightful, and I enjoyed reading this book (although I felt badly for Mrs. Murphy.) Indirectly, this book also conveys the message of empowerment: when you value yourself and cultivate gratitude and cheer, you can meet the nastiest of remarks with a level head, warm smile, and an invitation to understand.
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