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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: The Critique/Review (for writers) (05/06/10)

TITLE: The Giant and the Kitten
By susan woolen


When I first spotted Mac coming toward my classroom, I cringed inside. This student was trouble. He didn’t walk – he lumbered. I could see his dark face long before he was near my doorway. He stood almost six inches taller than the tallest student in the high school. I learned from others that he bench pressed two-hundred eighty pounds and once had lifted the front end of a small sedan off the ground. How would I work with him? He looked so tough and scary and I felt intimidated.

Because the student desks were too small for him, Mac sat at a table. He rarely participated in class and would answer questions only with a deep guttural grunt and a perpetual scowl.

Always in a group, never alone, the other students taunted him. “Hey,Mac! Climb any tall buildings lately? It was cold last night. Did ya have to light a fire in your cave? Where’s your club?” As Mac turned slowly toward them, they’d scatter in a hurry. Surprisingly, Mac never became angry and never retaliated in any way. He just lumbered sadly to his next class. My heart went out to him.

In math class, I was trying to teach the metric system which often confused my students. To my concern, Mac slowly lifted his head, looked at me anxiously, and raised his huge left hand. “ I use the metric system to help my dad fix cars,” Mac offered. “Please explain, Mac,” I encouraged. He told us about how he measured car’s spark plugs and went on to tell us about his interest in rocks and gems and how the metric system was also used to measure them, My class and I were impressed and Mac smiled for the first time

A few days later, as Mac filled my classroom door, he withdrew with one hand a large rock the size of a small watermelon from inside his jacket. He handed it to me the way another student would hand over a large marble. The heavy, brown rock was cracked in half and displayed a beautiful, rainbow- colored, crystal formation inside. Mac was very proud of his gift to me. I held it up to the class. “Wow! Where did you get it, Mac? What’s it called?” they wanted to know. He proudly spent the next few minutes telling us all about that beautiful rock.( I still have it at home.)

Almost a month later, I brought to class an ice cream cake from the Dairy Queen to celebrate my students’ hard work and good attitudes. We discovered the frozen cake was as hard as brick when we tried to cut it with the dinner knife I had brought from home. Mac volunteered to go to the cafeteria to borrow a stronger knife. When he returned, he pulled a huge butcher knife from under his jacket. “I was afraid the Principal would be angry if he saw me walking the hall with this so I hid it,” he grinned and then graciously cut a piece of cake for all of us.


One cold day, a tiny, weak, stray kitten showed up at school. The kids brought it mewing to my room where we fed it and put a clean rag in a corner for it to lie on. “It’s so cute!” “Aw, it’s just a cat!” “Let it go!” Suddenly, Mac lurched from his seat and moved toward the kitten. The other kids stepped back nervously and watched. Very gently, Mac lifed the kitten, which was not much bigger than his hand, into the crook of his arm and carried it back to his seat. The rest of the hour Mac cared for that kitten as it slept soundly in his arms. He checked on it throughout the day until finally, the owner claimed it.

My initial critique of Mac back when I first saw him as a scary, tough kid had now evaporated. Mac was a loveable, gentle giant. The kids fondly nick-named him T-Mac after T-Rex and never again taunted him. Friendships grew where fear had once existed.

Though he didn’t know it, Mac had reminded me how important it is to filter critique not through a negative mind-set but through kindness and understanding.

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This article has been read 340 times
Member Comments
Member Date
AnneRene' Capp05/13/10
Loved everything about this! Wonderful story with so many messages and found it to be well written too. Also loved the humor, especially T-Mac.
Karen Macor05/14/10
The world needs more kids like Mac and more teachers like you. Thanks for reminding us to critique with our hearts.
Mildred Sheldon05/16/10
Loved the title. Loved the story and loved the message. Outstanding and beautifully written.
Lisha Hunnicutt05/17/10
Great story! I was engaged in the story, but kept wondering when the topic tie-in would come. What a great ending and lesson for all of us! Best of luck with this one!