What If Everybody Thought That? (Ellen Javernick)

Hello, friends! Our book today is What If Everybody Thought That?, written by Ellen Javernick and illustrated by Colleen Madden, a look at the perils of making assumptions based on appearances.

Third in the pair’s series about bullying and discrimination, the reader is introduced to various scenarios in which a child who is different (a girl with alopecia, a boy with dyslexia, etc.) is surrounded by classmates with presumptive thoughts. “He’s too short to play basketball,” a group of taller boys conclude about a team hopeful. “Too bad she can’t do the relay race in that wheelchair”, a pitying peer thinks of her classmate. But what if everybody thought that? They might never learn that the boy with dyslexia is a talented robotics enthusiast, the girl with alopecia knows her way around a stylish wig, the shorter boy is the quickest and nimblest player on the team, and the girl in the wheelchair is the fastest relayist. By judging others based on outward appearances, we often miss out on getting to know their best qualities, or seeing them as well-rounded people. So before you let judgmental thoughts form your opinions, ask yourself: what if everybody thought that?

Wonderful. I wasn’t a huge fan of the previous book in this series, so I went into this one not knowing what to expect, and was very pleasantly surprised. The art and text have a wonderful clarity of tone and purpose that creates a multi-layered look at how destructive thoughts can harm not only the people we have them about, but ourselves as well. Even details like the pseudo-subliminal affirming messages hidden throughout the artwork (“U can do it!”; “Run your own race at your own pace”) help further the message of positive thinking. I really like the idea of teaching kids to question their own biases and examine their gut reactions; it’s a quality that people of any age could use more of, because it allows us to build empathy and understanding. The diversity in the art is fabulous, the length was fine, and JJ enjoyed it. A wonderful reminder to never judge a book by its cover, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

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

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.)