What If Everybody Said That? (Ellen Javernick)

Hello, friends! Our book today is What If Everybody Said That?, written by Ellen Javernick and illustrated by Colleen Madden, a lesson in considering the impact our words and actions can have on others.

A little girl with a host of bad manners displays her rudeness in number of scenarios, beginning with not allowing boys to play with her in the park. “What if everybody said that?” the boys’ mother asks, and the following page gives a number of examples of people excluding others for arbitrary reasons. This model repeats, each time showing the same little girl acting impolite, selfish, or thoughtless in both her behavior and words: she mocks other children’s artwork, refuses to share her lunch with a hungry student, and teases others based on their appearance or aptitude. Each time she is admonished by being asked to consider what the world would be like if everyone acted so callous. At last, her mother’s final scolding hits home, and the little girl starts to make amends for her behavior.

I was actually sort of disappointed by this one. While the atrocious behavior of the girl certainly warrants consideration, the central theme of “words hurt” was hit-or-miss; often it was the girl’s actions that were just as, if not more, hurtful. Also, while it was nice that she finally started down a kinder path, she only made amends for ONE of her transgressions – the others went unpunished and not apologized for. And after such epic rudeness, her sudden change of heart felt too abrupt. The art was just fine, using a diverse cast and some poignant visuals, the length was fine, and JJ liked it okay, but it lacked a certain sense of satisfaction that one would expect in a morality tale. Still, a classic lesson worthy of learning, so Baby Bookworm approved.

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

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