“Aaron the Different” by Etty Burk

“Aaron the Different” by Etty Burk 166 265 Reader Views Kids

Aaron the Different

Etty Burk
Publish Your Purpose (2023)
ISBN: 978-1955985820
Reviewed by Dawn Colclasure for Reader Views (07/2023)

Aaron the Different by Etty Burk is a science-fiction book for kids about a young alien named Aaron who is unlike the others on his planet. Aaron is different. He lives in an area of the planet Astron where all the people are tall and purple. Meanwhile, Aaron is round and green. Because of this, he is not accepted by others. His family loves him and supports him, but Aaron is sad that his teacher and classmates are rejecting him because he looks different. Aaron struggles to fit in, but the only friendships he manages to develop are with his forest friends. Can Aaron find a way to be accepted by others and appreciated for who he is?

While some readers of this story may notice how it speaks volumes about race because it concerns different skin colors, I couldn’t help but relate to Aaron’s situation because my burn scars were inflicted on me as a toddler so my childhood was rough, going to school with kids who bullied and teased me for having burn scars. Thankfully, none of that happens to Aaron in this story. The kids at his school just don’t play with him, talk to him, or befriend him. Everybody is tall and purple. They are the “Perfect Premiums” and often exclude Aaron from everything. When Aaron tries to make his presence known or point out that it’s okay for someone like him to exist, too, he is sent to the principal’s office for being disruptive.

I like how Aaron’s father says, “Aaron will find his way to shine.” Aaron is still young and has quite a way to go to figure out who he is and what he is meant to do. Right now, though, he struggles with fitting in and being accepted by others. Being different is not a bad thing. In fact, Aaron says he would rather be different than just like everybody else. But other kids at his school don’t accept him, and this is hard for him to live with.

It’s shameful that the adults at the school are also mean to him for being different. Adults should know better and show more compassion to children who are struggling with acceptance among their peers. However, I noticed the teacher was spending one day going over the history of the Premiums, and said things like, “It was decided by these Premiums that the best Premiums are tall and purple. I have always been proud to be a perfect purple Premium and all of you should also be proud!”  This sounds like indoctrination to me. The teacher was probably told the same thing as a young student and this message was probably pushed on her during her whole life. This type of lesson is also probably part of the school’s curriculum. Perhaps all the Premiums are being instructed in taking pride in being “tall and purple” and that anything less than that is not acceptable.

This type of indoctrination, of how all Premiums must be tall and purple, should also be done away with. Aaron is a Premium, too, even if he is not tall and purple. But, alas, it remains through most of the story, until the big plot twist towards the end that will, hopefully, help everyone to see just how wrong that kind of thinking is.

Even though he looks different, Aaron does have good qualities. He cares about others, is kind to animals, he is helpful and smart. He is also adventurous, loving to explore caves, and this is ultimately how he shines. His knowledge of the caves on the planet enables him to make a difference in the story.

I don’t recommend children reading this story alone. Sure, kids can read this story by themselves, but there are a lot of teachable moments which I feel would be good discussion topics for parents and teachers to have with kids. This is a group discussion book! It’s definitely a good story to talk about race, acceptance, empathy, and self-love. There are discussion questions at the back of the book, but these topics should absolutely be explored as a group among children and adults.

“Aaron the Different” by Etty Burk is a unique and enlightening tale for readers young and old. A story of acceptance and social issues, it captures the importance of appreciating the unique qualities of those who are not like us and learning to look beyond what is on the outside to see the true heart and soul of an individual on the inside.

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