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OPINION | READ TO ME: “How to Apologize”

by Celia Storey | May 17, 2021 at 1:52 a.m.
"How to Apologize" by David LaRochelle, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka (Candlewick Press, May 4), ages 3-7, 32 pages, $16.99. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Celia Storey)

"How to Apologize" by David LaRochelle, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka (Candlewick Press, May 4), ages 3-7, 32 pages, $16.99.

STORY: Reading this straightforward, humorous etiquette primer reminded me that children's books in general recycle a short stack of themes, from "You will go to sleep" to "You are as special as everybody else/your hair is fine." The old idea that apologies matter is a useful message delivered here in funny scenarios.

Wohnoutka's animal characters illustrate classic situations. Accidental harm is represented by a parachuting penguin that smashes the roof of a bathroom in which an alligator was taking a bubblebath.

Inattention: An elephant eating peanuts while driving rear-ends a mouse in a tiny car stopped at a stop sign.

Disobedience: A kitten touches and breaks a vase labeled "Do Not Touch."

Clueless recklessness: Meerkats pin their pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey game onto the body of an irritated hippo.

LaRochelle makes the point that if you are at fault, you should apologize whether you like the other guy or not: A nerdy-looking cat-boy crashes his kite onto a rough looking bulldog barbecuing a steak. A bee and a fly who are running for the same school office upset each other with insulting posters.

Hilarious animals illustrate the form the apology should take, that it can be just a few words but must state what you did clearly, without making excuses.

And it should be sincere.

And you can write a note.

And it's never too late.

And you should try to make amends.

And you and the other person will feel better. And that's why we apologize.

Read to Me is a weekly review of short books.

Print Headline: OPINION | READ TO ME

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