Guest Post By Jen Rofe, Literary Agent
I learned about tact when I was 12 years old, courtesy of my brother, who was 10. The story goes like this: My uncle, in his later 30s at the time, was dating “Diana,” who my brother and I weren’t fond of. We didn’t think she was particularly nice. Then, as I remember it, my family went on vacation to Hawaii and a week later my uncle picked us up from the airport with a different woman in tow, Judy. Loudly, and in front of everyone, my brother asked: “What happened to Diana?” That’s when my uncle taught him the word “tact.” We ultimately ended up with an Aunt Judy and a couple of awesome cousins.
This is one of my favorite family stories to recall. It’s a fun example of how youthful naivete can make for an awkward moment and learning opportunity. I’m not yet a parent, so I can mostly only imagine the challenge of teaching children some of the big concepts like “tact.” Children are granted grace for their lack of brain-to-mouth filters, and they have the superpower ability to say and do the most embarrassing things at the most inopportune times. Like my friend’s toddler who, when he and his father came across a man legitimately wearing an eye patch, loudly proclaimed, “Look, Dad, it’s a pirate!” Or the time my friend’s two-year-old daughter decided to strip in a department store and dance in front of the make-up counters. Or when my friend’s son chose to announce, in Target, which number his mother performed in the bathroom.
These stories came to mind a few months ago when I discovered the New York Times bestselling picture book Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Jane Dyer (HarperCollins 2005). This entirely charming book teaches some of the big concepts like Pride, Respect, Greed, Regret, and Trustworthiness in connection to making, eating, and sharing chocolate chip cookies.
How do you teach children about Trustworthiness? Like so: “Trustworthy means, If you ask me to hold your cookie until you come back, when you come back, I will still be holding your cookie.” And Modesty? “Modest means you don’t run around telling everyone you make the best cookies, even if you know it to be true.” The whimsical and wonderfully unexpected illustrations of children interacting with anthropomorphized animals add another layer of charm to this book. I particularly enjoy the image for REGRET — a brown and white bunny reclines in a chair, his hands on his protruding belly and the top button of his trousers undone. We all know the regret of eating too many cookies.
An added bonus – a recipe for chocolate chip cookies in the back.
Today, I’m excited to offer a give-away of Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons. For the chance to win, simply use the raffelcopter widget below to leave a comment here telling Bump Life about an embarrassing moment with your child (other ways to get more entries below also!). Two winners will be chosen and announced next Friday (9/7)
You can learn more about Amy Krouse Rosenthal and her other books, including the follow-ups to Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons, at http://www.whoisamy.com/.
Jen Rofé is a literary agent at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. You can follow her on Twitter at @jenrofe.