Have you heard " I don't care" too many times by a child you know or care for? Pierre: a cautionary tale in five chapters and a prologue, by Maurice Sendak is perhaps a good antidote for this careless phrase.

Written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak this whimsically and curious tale of Pierre the boy who never cared is a great book to read. Pierre never cares and frustrates his parents with his "I don't care" attitude. He does what he wants when he wants, reminding us of Max, another unbridled soul in Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are. His singular response to any query or concern is simply "I don't care". Sample Pierre's conversation with his mother:

"What would you like to eat?"
"I don't care"."Some lovely cream of wheat?"
"I don't care".
"Don't sit backward on your chair".
"I don't care".
"Or pour syrup on your hair".
"I don't care".
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Pierre just doesn't care for his mother's love

The conversations he has with his father are not too different either.

His father said, " Get off your head, or I'll march you off to bed!"
Pierre said,
"I don't care."
"I would think that you could see-"
"I don't care."
"Your head is where your feet should be!"
"I don't care."
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Pierre couldn't care less for his father's words of advice

His parents go out to town without Pierre. That night uncaring Pierre encounters a hungry lion.

Now, as the night began to fall A hungry lion paid a call. He looked Pierre right in the eye and asked him if he'd like to diePierre said, "I don't care."

The lion warns him that he will eat Pierre. Naturally Pierre who till now has never faced the consequence of not caring, retorts

"I don't care."

The lion  therefore goes ahead and eats Pierre.

So the lion ate Pierre.
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The lion is surprised that Pierre doesn't care if he eats him! His parents arrive and on seeing the lion in bed:They pulled the lion by the hair.They hit him with the folding chair.

His parents on their return are horrified to see the lion in Pierre's bed. His mother asks:

"Where is Pierre?"
The lion answered,
"I don't care.
"His father said,
"Pierre's in there."
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A rather sick lion with Pierre in his belly

The rush the lion to the hospital where after a good shakedown Pierre tumbles out. His parents are relieved and so it seems is Pierre.

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The lion is given a good shake-down to get Pierre out

The lion offers to take Pierre on his back to Pierre's house. Everyone looks at Pierre wondering what he will say next. Pierre now transformed from his short stay inside the lion's stomach says, " Yes, indeed I care".

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Pierre finally cares

The story has a happy ending with the lion staying on as a weekend guest. The moral of the story is then, Care. The drawings and words will stay with you long after you finish the book. Gentle does it - is the motto of the author. He does not go beyond the punishment of the lion swallowing Pierre. Listen to people who care or you will be swallowed by those who don't, the author cautions. The book is also a great point to start reading lessons for early readers. What a great moral story to teach a child in a very fun way. Dip into Pierre: a cautionary tale in five chapters and a prologue for a jolly good story.