Lessons of a LAC and Perfect Petunias by Lynn Jenkins

I am pairing two books, both written by Lynn Jenkins and illustrated by Kirrili Lonergan, because they carry very important messages for children who are anxious or show perfectionistic tendencies.  The text is spare and the humorous oversized Dr. Seuss-like illustrations that leap off the pages. Through Loppy and Curly, who look at life differently, children will find helpful ways of looking at anxiety and perfectionism and learn to be more flexible. And children will giggle out loud as they rapidly turn the pages! This gorgeous series, with quirky pen and ink characters, is a gem. It is perfect for children 4-8 years.

Lessons of a LAC

EK Books, Fiction, Dec. 18, 2018

Themes: Anxiety, Worry, Peace, Calm, Humor

Synopsis: Loppy is a LAC, or a “Little Anxious Creature.” LACs have big muscles in their eyes and lips, so their eyes are really googly and his lips really huge! They live in a village on one side of a big mountain.  Loppy is good at focusing on what could go wrong and never stops worrying about the “what ifs…”  The enemy of the LACs are the Calmsters, who live on the other side of the big mountain and learn about calm and peace and have a “I can do it” attitude.  They have always battled — when one party wins a battle, the other shrinks! Curly the Calmster just wants Loppy to think differently about his worries. As Curly and Loppy battle it out, Loppy learns that maybe he can manage his anxious thoughts after all. Lessons of a LAC gives readers unique ways to think about common emotional difficulties while teaching them the right words to reassure themselves when they are worried.

Perfect Petunias

EK Books, Fiction, Jul. 3, 2018

Themes: Perfectionism, Mistakes,  Hopeless, Humor

Synopsis: Loppy LAC is very worried about not doing his homework well enough. He is always focusing on what he hasn’t done rather then what he has, and he becomes very frustrated. “My writing is all messy…I’ve made heaps of mistakes…I’m hopeless.”  His friend Curly is very patient as he waits and waits for Loppy to end his tantrum. Curly teaches him about how petunias grow — in lots of different, imperfect directions that he can’t control! With Curly’s help, Loppy learns that in trying to control his mistakes he’s trying to grow ‘perfect’ petunias — which is impossible. Sometimes he just needs to accept that things go a certain way and to change his definition of ‘perfect’ to mean trying his absolute best.

Resources: These are great discussion books at home and school.  Ask kids to name what makes them anxious or what makes them want to be perfect. Make a list. Use the book as a guide to show kids that bad things don’t always happen.  Take children outside to look at the petunias and other flowers that are growing in yards. Let them see the beauty in the imperfect way petunias grow. Encourage them to paint a page full of petunias and let it be messy and beautiful. And of course, draw a picture of Loppy and Curly.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Review copies provided by EK Books.

Stickley Makes a Mistake! by Brenda S. Miles

stickley-makes-a-mistake51jrzhny88l__sx401_bo1204203200_Stickley Makes a Mistake! – A Frog’s Guide to Trying Again

Brenda S. Miles, Author

Steve Mack, Illustrator

Magination Press, Fiction, Aug. 15, 2016

Suitable for Ages: 5-8

Themes: Frogs, Animals, Making mistakes, Perfection, Perseverance, Rhyme

Opening: When Stickley was young, he didn’t like making mistakes. “Oh no!” he’d say, and he wouldn’t try again. He wanted to be perfect.

Book Synopsis: Stickley didn’t like making mistakes. With help from his Grandpa, Stickley learns to hop up, try again, and say “oh well” when he makes a mistake. Nobody’s perfect, and good things can happen even when you make mistakes — like putting blueberries in the pancake batter instead of chocolate chips. When Stickley writes 1 + 1 = 3 on the blackboard, he asks for help and a polar bear hands him an ice cream cone with two sweet scoops.

Why I like this book:

Brenda S. Mills’ has written a charming and important sequel to her popular Stickley Sticks To It book. Stickley is so afraid of making a mistake, that he’s afraid to try when he messes up. It is important for children to learn that making a mistake is part of their learning process.  They grow from their mistakes. And, some mistakes can be fun. The language is artful, with a careful use of prose that is also lyrical at times.  “No one is perfect, / so practice your best! / If you’re stuck on a problem, / ask for help with the rest!”  Steve Mack’s illustrations are colorful, lively and full of personality. Stickley’s expressions are priceless.

Resources: The book includes a Note to Parents, Caregivers, and Teachers with tips for helping children to embrace their mistakes, learn from them, and keep trying. Stickley Makes a Mistake, is an important book for preschools and elementary students.  This is a good book to read at the start of the new year, to help children know that perfection isn’t the goal — the fun of learning.  And since many parents don’t like making mistakes, it’s a fun book to read with your child.  It will encourage many fun discussions.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

Nobody’s Perfect – Chapter Book

Nobody's Perfect104038626Nobody’s Perfect:  A Story for Children About Perfectionism

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.