Encouragement from Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse

I love children’s literature. It brings out the commonality of human nature in a simple and often hilarious ways. I
love stories because they help us laugh at ourselves.

A favorite story is Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, by Kevin Henkes. The story is about Lilly and her new purple plastic purse that makes music when you open it. Lilly admires her teacher Mr. Slinger. One day, after a shopping trip with her grandmother, she brings in her new glamorous sunglasses, and purple plastic purse to school. While sharing her new treasures at an inappropriate time during the day Mr. Slinger gently takes the new items and holds them in his desk until the end of the day. Lilly gets very upset and angry. However, that evening she realized her mistake and apologizes the next day. Then all is well again.

Here is a walk through Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse with some editorial comments about encouragement and human nature.

Lilly’s teacher encourages others by example. He was not like the other teachers.

 (#1 Encouragement is intrinsically good. It brings out the best in others.)

Mr. Slinger was sharp as a tack.

He thought that desks in rows were old-fashioned and boring. ‘Do you think you can handle a semicircle?’

‘Wow,’ said Lilly. That was just about all she could say, ‘wow’.

Lilly loves her teacher and want to be one just like him. He did it through example.

Lilly felt good about herself with her new items in tow and wanted to share that feeling. Maybe she was encouraging others to get their own purple plastic purse, maybe not. (#4 Something good for me may not be good for you.)But she definitely wanted to share with others what was making her feel good about herself. She wanted others to notice her joy and perhaps help others to find their joy.

Lilly wanted to show everyone…Lilly really wanted to show everyone.  Lilly really, really wanted to show everyone.

“Not now,” said Mr. Slinger. “wait until recess or Sharing Time.”

But Lilly could not wait.  “Look,” Lilly whispered fiercely. “Look, everyone. Look what I’ve got!” Everyone looked. Including Mr. Slinger. He was not amused.

“I’ll just keep your things at my desk until the end of the day,” said Mr. Slinger. “They’ll be safe there, and then you can take them home.”

Because Lilly shared her overflowing joy at the wrong time, she temporarily lost her treasures. And she lost her joy.

Lilly’s stomach lurched. She felt like crying….Lilly longed for her purse all morning.

Not only did she loose her joy, she became sad, angry, and furious. She lashed out at Mr. Slinger with insults. She drew a mean picture of Mr. Slinger and put it in his book bag. She wanted him to feel her pain.

Lilly’s reaction made me think about how I react when my special things are taken away.

Mr. Slinger had put a note in her purse before returning it to her at the end of the day. It read, “Today was a difficult day. Tomorrow will be better.” When Lilly arrived home she felt horrible. After telling her mother and father everything that had happened, she wrote an apology note.

I thought it was very mature of Lilly to think of writing an apology note all by herself. I’m sure her parents would have encouraged her to write one if Lilly had not come up with the idea on her own.

Lilly seemed to be very aware of the situation. Although she did not like what happened at school, she wrote the apology anyway. She also made some treats to share with the class. This makes me think of another encouragement principle to be added to my list, encouragement takes courage.

In the morning, Lilly gave the treats and the note to Mr. Slinger before school started. And the day went much better.

Lilly shared her new treasures during Sharing Time. She also kept the treasures in her desk.

Throughout the rest of the day, Lilly’s purse and quarters and sunglasses were tucked safely inside her desk. She peeked at them often but did not disturb a soul.

I love having special things close to me during the day. When I was first engaged, and sometimes still, I love to glance at my engagement ring and smile. It is such a fun reminder of how our family started, just Chris and me. I can go days without thinking about my ever present ring, but it is a fun reminder when I take the time to look at it and remember.

At the end of the day,

Lilly ran and skipped and hopped and flew all the way home, she was so happy.

We are happy when things are in order. We are happy when we have the courage to make things right.