In Johnson’s (Charli’s Rainy Day, 2016, etc.) illustrated children’s book, little girls learn how to share toys and have more fun.
Charli loves playing with her friends Brittany, Malia, Yasmeen, and Katie at school, but they don’t live near one another, and she misses them on the weekends. One day, she has an aha moment: what about a play date? She proposes this idea to her parents, and her mother agrees and helps her with the invitations. (Why her father doesn’t initially get involved isn’t explained, but later, when Charli’s friends’ parents are on the scene, fathers and mothers take part.) When Charli’s pals and their parents arrive for the play date, she can barely contain her excitement—but trouble soon erupts over sharing toys. Katie and Yasmeen want the same doll; Charli and Malia want the same dress-up hat. After hearing the shouting, the girls’ parents get involved and explain “the importance of sharing and being mindful not to hurt one another’s feelings.” Charli’s mother gets a timer from the kitchen “to enforce what they were learning about sharing.” The new system works beautifully, and later, in school, the teacher notices how well the kids are sharing things. She asks other students “to watch and observe how Charli and her friends shared during play time,” making the girls feel special. Johnson offers a straightforwardly moral, instructive tale here. However, the characters are improbably open to the joys of good behavior: they love being taught a lesson and handing over toys, because using a timer is fun; they look for approval from their teacher and parents, not from peers. Well, maybe, but for parents who’ve discovered that lectures about the importance of sharing don’t always do the trick, this book isn’t likely to help. The illustrations, though, are lively, colorful, and expressive, and it’s nice to see Charli’s friends and their parents representing a diversity of cultural backgrounds—one mother, for example, wears a hijab.
An earnest, pedagogical kids’ book whose illustrations are its most appealing aspect.