By Peter J. Goodman, Illustrated by Nicolas Milano
Dream Big Press, $16.95, 32 pages
It is the first day of school for students at Meowville Elementary. Carlos, a beautiful hairless cat, is very nervous. He doesn’t feel beautiful because Vinny, a big cat who has lots of fur, laughs at him. Vinny is a mean bully. Will classmates Marla and Flo stand up for Carlos when Vinny begins to bully him on the playground? How will Mommy cat help her son? We’re All Different But We’re All Kitty Cats: First Day of School is a great book to introduce kids to anti-bullying. It is just one of many social issues author Peter J. Goodman plans to tackle in his upcoming Kitty Cat series. He hopes to promote discussion early in a child’s development. Each of Goodman’s books will end with questions parents and teachers can ask kids to start conversations about topics including confidence, illness, loss, independence, empathy and bullying. First Day of School asks kids to think about why Vinny picks on Carlos. Readers are challenged to make a list of support people to talk to in case they are bullied and ways they can help someone if they are being picked on.
“My meow is loud. Mine is soft. I am tall. And I am short. I am chubby. And I am skinny. My tail is long. Mine is stubby. I am shy. And I am not. We’re all different but we’re all kitty cats.”
It is interesting to note that Vinny is never punished for his bullying behavior in the story. That is true to real life where many bullies are never punished. But that is where parents and teachers can pick up the conversation and reinforce anti-bullying techniques and implement them in the classroom and at home. Hopefully today’s generation of kitty cats, whoops – kids, won’t grow up to be bullies but will know what to do in case they encounter one.
Reviewed by Elizabeth Franklin