All young children learn that an enthusiastic “Can I play too?” is the fastest way to make new friends, but it isn’t always smooth sailing.
Two children sit together to build a train track. Anyone who has been around kids knows the chaos that can erupt between children trying to work together to build the perfect track. However, it is also a chance for a lot of learning opportunities. As readers turn the pages, they see one child take the lead as the other becomes more and more frustrated not to be heard. This is seen mostly in the children’s facial expressions and posture. Ultimately, the child who’s not heard gets angry and storms off, leaving the other child confused. This child’s mother sees what has happened and jumps in with some helpful tools on reading others’ emotions and appropriately reacting to them: green, yellow, and red signals like a traffic light’s. The iconic smiley/frowny faces that accompany this lesson nicely complement the clarity of Cotterill’s character depictions. (The child who dominates in play presents white; their playmate presents black.) It’s a simple lesson in empathy that can go a long way. The book wraps up with the children trying to build a new track and then putting into practice what they learned—a lesson that is definitely not limited to playtime.
An emotional-literacy booster to add to the regular reading rotation. (Picture book. 4-7)