Seven personified character traits teach lessons about respect and other values in this debut children’s guide written by a girl and her grandmother.
Tyler and Greer’s book aims “to promote good manners, positive character traits, and a safe environment for children.” Rarely for such works, Tyler is a child herself, age 9 at the time of writing, giving her perhaps an edge with her peers. The “WORLD FIGHTERS FOR CHARACTER TRAITS” consist of seven human members—Joyful, Love, May, Pixie, Zach, Nikki, and DJG—plus one animal, Candy Cane Cat. They all appear young, somewhat in the chibi style of Japanese illustration, with oversized heads, huge eyes (when not winking or covered by an eye patch), and tiny limbs. They have a range of skin tones, hair colors, and clothing/accessories and a few oddities, like Nikki’s fangs and DJG’s eye patch and face mask (unexplained). Although there’s some differentiation, the team’s traits tend to overlap. Love is considerate; Joyful is well-mannered; and Pixie is helpful. May is compassionate; Joyful is caring; and Nikki is supportive. Zach actually joins the team after the group’s first mission, which transforms him from a bully and teaches him compassion. Two other operations teach respect and integrity. The timely book’s values are stated clearly, and the human cast is wonderfully diverse. But the transformation process raises some questions. In Zach’s case, Candy Cane Cat recommends giving him a “love shower,” which works instantly. It’s an appealing thought but sets the unlikely expectation that changing someone’s behavior is easy and fast and also suggests that stopping bullying is up to kids. Usually experts recommend getting adults to intervene, reserving kindness for the child being bullied. Respect and integrity are instilled with similar ease: for example, “I will transform the students….The students are transformed.” Another goal is to teach roots, prefixes, and suffixes of values-based vocabulary, but this sometimes stumbles on inconsistencies, such as defining “authored” as “With, together, joint,” which actually defines the prefix “co.” And “author” shouldn’t include the suffix “-ed.”
A well-intentioned manual that offers uneven advice.