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Small History of a Disagreement

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Should an ancient monkey puzzle tree be cut down to make room for exciting new classrooms? In this spirited picture book, students must work together to come to an agreement—but it’s not as easy as it seems!

On the first day back at school after the holidays, a group of classmates notice a construction crane parked next to the old monkey puzzle tree. The school principal says the tree will be cut down to make room for new science classrooms and computer labs. The classmates are divided, with some in favor of innovation, and others calling for the protection of the thousand-year-old tree. As they protest, march, fight, and strike, one teacher offers a solution: Why not hold a debate? The principal agrees, and at the end of the debate, a student vote will end the disagreement, once and for all—or will it?

Inspirational without being didactic, and filled with warm, lively illustrations, this wonderful introduction to the process of debate, listening, and collective decision-making will be read by young and old alike for years to come.

56 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2017

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About the author

Claudio Fuentes

27 books8 followers
Es profesor titular de la Escuela de Ciencia Política de la Universidad Diego Portales. Doctor en Ciencia Política de la Universidad de Carolina del Norte (Chapel Hill). Sus intereses académicos se han orientado al estudio de los procesos políticos en Chile y América Latina, focalizándose en los últimos años en el estudio de las dinámicas del cambio institucional. Integró el Consejo Asesor Presidencial anti-corrupción (2015). Es investigador asociado del Centro de Estudios Interculturales e Indígenas (CIIR) e investigador senior del proyecto Milenio, Desafíos a la representación.

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Displaying 1 - 14 of 14 reviews
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
1,581 reviews51 followers
January 30, 2021
A Small History of a Disagreement is an interesting look at the democratic process in the context of environmental protections at a school. The book takes us through the points each side makes, a debate, a vote, and the compromise they come to when the vote comes to a tie. It's a straightforward and positive view of the ideal way the system can work.

I do think that it was perhaps a bit unfair in its presentation of the side looking to save the tree, putting it down to "passion" where the other side was "rational"--an unfortunate comparison given the implication that environmental protections and protecting a plant sacred to local Indigenous communities as not being as rational.

The illustration and writing styles struck me as a bit old fashioned compared to other releases from the past few years, but this could simply be a regional difference. It isn't something I see as a downside, to be clear, just a note to add. It reminded me of stories I read as a kid.

As a whole, it's a solid book that shares important political ideas in an engaging way. I can definitely see it being effectively used as a teaching tool in the upper grades of elementary school.
Profile Image for Melissa Orth.
383 reviews5 followers
January 7, 2021
A short story relating a lesson in civics perfect for educators.
The scenario is that a school is renovating and in order for construction to begin, a monkey puzzle tree will be cut down. This upsets several students who start a protest but then the students who want the new school protest too. This leads to a school wide vote with each side making its case. Long story short, there’s a tie and students learn how to compromise and problem solve.
The story takes place in Chile and there a bit of cultural information on the tree’s importance (though not given is the Spanish word for the tree).
One quibble I have is that the argument for keeping the tree is “based on emotions and passion” while the argument for cutting down the tree is based on “rational logic” even though both sides use a mix of facts and opinions to sway voters to their side.
Still this would be a good curriculum title.
Profile Image for Villain E.
2,943 reviews9 followers
May 5, 2023
Some students arrive at school to find part of it blocked off, with construction equipment behind the fence. They find out that the school is building a new building with science and computer labs, but they will need to cut down a monkey puzzle tree to do it. The monkey puzzle tree is a protected species and it's a millenial tree, whatever that means. Some students want to save the tree, others want the new facilities. They argue, they protest and, eventually, they vote.

There are no named characters. The focus is the debate. The art seems old-fashioned, but the text mentions the internet and social media. When I look closer at the art, I do see kids carrying smartphones. The title is something I would expect for a non-fiction book, but this is fiction, as far as I can tell.
Profile Image for Cynthia Ayerdi.
Author 3 books12 followers
November 5, 2020
Yo opino que es un libro corto, pero aprendes mucho con él. Te hace pensar si te quieres inclinar más hacia los desarrollistas o hacia los milenarios. Pienso que personas de todas las edades lo deberían leer, desde los más pequeños de la casa hasta un estudiante de ciencia política.
Todos pueden sacar algo de este libro, desde cómo argumentar en un debate hasta cómo crear una solución que tome en cuenta las opiniones de todos, aunque no estés de acuerdo con ellas.
Como ya he dicho, es corto y tiene poco texto, pero las ilustra-ciones están muy bien hechas y le dan vida a la historia y a los per-sonajes. Y, gracias a que no es muy largo, lo puedes leer una y otra vez e inclusive puedes ver que tus opiniones sobre el edificio van cambiando entre más lo leas.
Un conocimiento muy importante en la “vida real” (cuando lees demasia-do se te puede olvidar que existe un mundo afuera de tus libros) es saber cómo resolver un conflicto. Los conflictos no los debes resolver con vio-lencia, sino los debes resolver con un diálogo y buscar una solución ganar-ganar. Siempre que intentes resolver un conflicto debes tomar en cuenta que la libertad de expresión siempre va a estar ahí, o sea que todos tene-mos derecho a argumentar sus ideas y opiniones sin ser atacados por per-sonas con ideologías opositoras.
No importa que el único nombre que te dan de un personaje que te dan es Pedro Uribe (el arquitecto del edificio), porque los personajes y las cau-sas por las que luchan se quedarán en tu corazón por mucho tiempo.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
3,794 reviews20 followers
December 29, 2020
I'm thinking of sending a copy of this book to every member of the legislature ;-)

A school construction project means that a treasured monkey-puzzle tree in the yard must be cut down. The school is deeply divided about whether that should happen or not. The school principal challenges her students to research, debate and come to a vote about what should happen.

Lively and interesting, this is an important lesson in process and compromise while also being a fun book to read.
Profile Image for Charlotte.
155 reviews1 follower
March 31, 2021
Set in Chile, this book describes a school debate about cutting down a Monkey Puzzle Tree to make way for a new school building. It offers an accessible lesson on the importance of debate and voting. Great for school age children and grown ups. I even learned a new word - plebiscite - the direct vote of all members of an electorate on an important public question.
Profile Image for Jana.
2,592 reviews38 followers
June 29, 2022
There is so much divisiveness in our world today, and kids need to be taught the skills to deal with disagreements and controversies in a civil manner. This book looks at that through the story of one school’s attempt to settle the question of whether to build an addition to the campus or save an ancient tree.
Profile Image for Michael Rank.
112 reviews2 followers
December 2, 2020
I can guarantee you this is the only picture book you'll find that uses the word plebiscite.
414 reviews1 follower
January 16, 2021
Love this book! It’s for kids, but as adults, we need to learn more about the art of compromise! Disagreements are not bad or wrong. When we take time to hear each other, there is slows room for all!
Profile Image for Alvaro.
184 reviews5 followers
March 6, 2018
Libro ilustrado sobre ciudadanía para niños y jóvenes. La historia gira en torno a las posiciones encontradas que genera el proyecto de cortar un emblemático pehuén para construir una ampliación del colegio. Se forman dos bandos entre los alumnos y los profesores alientan un debate y una votación plebiscitaria para dirimir el conflicto con una salomónica solución.
No me queda claro si funcionaría con niños, lo veo más para jóvenes. Parece un libro útil para generar instancias de disenso entre los estudiantes, por lo que celebro que se potencia costumbres tan escasas en nuestro país: saber escuchar, respetar la opinión argumentada de otros y, sobre todo, poder discutir sin pelear.
Displaying 1 - 14 of 14 reviews

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