Ellen Flanagan Burns, author
Erica Pelton Villnave, illustrator
Magination Press, Fiction, 2009
Suitable for: Ages 8 and up
Themes: Perfectionism, Making Mistakes, Doing Your Best
Synopsis: “Sally Sanders is a perfectionist — if she can’t be the best, she feels like a failure.” This is a Chapter Book and each chapter features Sally in variety of situations that seem more like a series of examples — a piano recital, school play, school project, volleyball and soccer — where her perfectionism prevents her from having fun. But, there is a very strong message for children who feel that they aren’t good enough. Gradually, Sally learns with the help of her teachers, friends and mother, that no one is perfect and making mistakes is part of growing up.
Why I like this book: Children want to feel successful. No child wants to feel like a loser. But, sometimes wanting to be the best can lead to perfectionism and require help from parents, teachers and counselors. Children can become anxious, stressed and not want to attend school. With the beginning of the school year, it would be a good time to share this book with your kids and let them know that you don’t expect them to be perfect with everything they do. The author, Ellen Flanagan Burns is a psychologist and writes a lovely introduction to the book with suggestions. She mentions her own problem with perfectionism as a child. The illustrations by Erica Pelton Villnave are colorful and expressive and appear on every page.