A tale of funny behavior modification for the kindergarten set.

BetterNot! And the Tale of Bratsville


An eerie purple creature teaches a town of rude children an important lesson in this fantastical children’s book. 

The kids aren’t very nice in a town dubbed Bratsville. They pick their noses, scream and shout, and misbehave in every situation—much to the chagrin of their helpless parents, who can do very little to quell their children’s ridiculous behavior. Nothing, it seems, can get the kids to be polite, conscientious members of society. The book blames sweets or smothering parents as possible sources of the brattiness, but it’s not until a mysterious, swampy purple being called the BetterNot comes to town that the children behave properly. BetterNot teaches every child that his or her behavior has consequences. For instance, Lilly Loudmouth calls people names, so BetterNot, using magical powers, makes sure that she’s transformed into a creature for doing so. Patrick Puncher has a habit of beating on his friends, and BetterNot warns him that he could end up hitting himself in the face. This continues until he expertly deals with all the problem children in town. After he finishes his mission of debratification, Bratsville is renamed Angelsville, as all the kids are now perfectly behaved. Del Vecchio (The Pearl of Anton, 2004) certainly has a grasp on how to engage parents and young readers alike. The book is part fun bedtime story and part cautionary tale and thus serves dual purposes: to delight children with rhyming prose and colorful, engaging illustrations and to dictate to them that certain behaviors aren’t acceptable in society. Such warning statements are a foundational aspect of parenting—how many children have been told not to make a face, lest it stick like that forever?—and this book offers a nice way for parents to get in on the joke while reinforcing their child’s good behavior. (After all, one never knows when BetterNot will be right around the corner.) Fong’s illustrations, meanwhile, are brightly hued and expertly drawn. This funny, thoughtful work may be very helpful for caretakers trying to curb children’s less-than-savory actions.

A tale of funny behavior modification for the kindergarten set.

Pub Date: June 18, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-692-47105-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves


A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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