Counselor and psychotherapist Mulcahy makes his children’s-book debut with the Zach Rules series, designed to give kids some coping tools for working through everyday problems.
In this series kickoff, Zach’s mother teaches him the four-square apology. Zach writes and draws the answers to four questions (What did I do to hurt someone? How did the person feel? What could I do next time? How will I make it up to them?), then uses them to make an apology to his sibling for pushing him down. In the simultaneously publishing Zach Gets Frustrated, a day at the beach is not much fun for Zach because his kite won’t fly. By teaching him the three parts of the frustration triangle, his dad is able to get Zach to name the cause of his frustration, calm down and reframe the situation. Extensive backmatter in each book helps parents understand why teaching children these strategies is so important, as well as how to teach them successfully. As in many expressly didactic books, interactions between the characters are stiff and stilted, although Zach’s feelings are widely recognizable and will be familiar to readers. McKee’s brightly colored digital illustrations have a Cartoon Network feel to them, but they nonetheless do a good job of supporting the text and helping to teach the material.
While not many kids are likely to ask for repeated readings, still this new series is a useful tool for teaching valuable skills. (Picture book. 4-8)