Sunday, July 12, 2009

No Regrets! Martha Doesn't Say Sorry! by Samantha Berger

There are many things Martha does, but apologize isn't one of them.

She does give hugs; she does share her snacks.

She does make presents. She does read stories.

But Martha doesn't say sorry.

In her little pink frock with the Peter Pan collar, Martha looks like quite the little lady--a neat and petite little otter who appears quite perfect.

But it seems Martha has a bit of a not so nice streak: she "spills" cake batter all over her mother's apron on purpose; she "paints" her father's back bright red when he lets her help him paint a kitchen chair; and she rips into a drum solo just when her little brother is napping. Even when sent to do a well-deserved timeout, and even though she feels a bit repentant, Martha just can't bring her self to say that word--"Sorry!" With her snout high in the air, Martha is a holdout!

Wisely, Martha's family know how to be holdouts too! When Martha wants a fresh, hot cookie, her mom makes it clear there are no cookies for people who can't say sorry. Turning her back, she transfers the goodies to the cookie jar and puts it away. Dad makes it clear that he doesn't give piggyback rides to people who can't say sorry, and her baby brother has no hugs for people who don't show penitence for nap spoiling.

Martha responds loud and clear and with snout elevated even more, shows that she can do without cookies, piggyback rides, and hugs from anyone!

But as the lonely day winds it way on, Martha thinks about it. And thinks about it. And finally whispers very quietly...


Nobody seems to notice Martha's weak attempt to make amends.


"What?" says her mother. "What?" says her father. "FWA?" says her baby brother

"I'M ... S O R R Y!"

Martha makes amends at last, and the lesson is--at least partly--learned, and she finds she can, when she's not so nice, say sorry as nicely as she possibly can.

Samantha Berger's Martha Doesn't Say Sorry, very ably assisted by the nuanced illustrations of pro Bruce Whatley, makes its point about the power of apology effectively through its simple text, with not a wasted word, and its appealing pictures. For example, there is Martha, sweetly reading to her baby brother from her favorite wizardly fantasy, Harry Otter, and then there's Martha, nose in the air, stonewalling and saying to herself in clear body language, "Who needs them!" And finally there's Martha, clearly arriving at the answer to her own question with a "Me. That's who!"

In fact, Martha Doesn't Say Sorry, seems a fine companion piece to Kevin Leman's how-to for perplexed parents, Have a New Kid by Friday: How to Change Your Child's Attitude, Behavior & Character in 5 Days reviewed here back in March, in which he proposes this exact strategy for dealing with obstreperous offspring.

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