BIG DREAMS, SMALL FISH Written and illustrated by Paula Cohen (Levine Querido; $17.99, Ages…
Karen B. Estrada reviews Betty Bunny Wants Everything
Although I’m still just on the brink of becoming a parent, my husband and I both try to promise ourselves, however foolishly, that we will not spoil our children. We want to teach them the value of money and that they cannot have everything they want, but neither of us have yet to have the experience of shopping with a clever child who is able to talk her way into getting what she wants. Michael Kaplan’s Betty Bunny is a “handful” who believes this moniker is a compliment. In Betty Bunny Wants Everything ($16.99, Dial Books, ages 3 and up), when Betty’s mother tells her she can get just one item from the toy store, she instead goes wild, filling up the card with oodles of toys. Kaplan perfectly describes a child’s mindset: “She didn’t know what any of these things were or what she might do with them, but she knew she had to have them.” Betty’s mother tries the line all parents have used at some point,“You can’t have everything you want,” but Betty insists it is her mother who does not understand. Betty wants these things, and she does not see why she cannot have what she wants. While feisty Betty’s three older siblings watch in disbelief, each of them having chosen just one toy, Betty continues to pile the cart high with things until her mother finally pays for the toys for Betty’s siblings, picks Betty up, and walks out of the store leaving Betty’s cart full of treasures behind. Betty kicks and screams and cries the whole way home.
Stephanie Jorisch’s bright watercolor illustrations move us through the store to the stages of a toddler’s tantrum as Betty sits sulking in a green chair covered in cloverleafs, hoping her father will see her side and tell her mom that she was mean. Instead, Betty’s parents take her back to the store and give her some money to buy whatever she wishes. I love the way Kaplan interjects subtle sarcasm that only a parent will pick up on throughout the narrative of this book while simultaneously telling the story of a very precocious child who is always trying to outsmart her parents. Betty is not a brat, but a typical lovable toddler who is no longer fooled at her parent’s tricks and has already learned how to work the system; but Betty’s parents are wise as well, and they tailor their parenting tactics in order to continue trying to teach Betty valuable lessons. Betty Bunny Wants Everything is a great read for any parent who has ever taken a child shopping—and what parent has not had to say “no” to his child and risk that unending tantrum which draws the eyes of other shoppers? This book will bring a smile to the face of the parents while teaching a child that lesson we are always trying to get across—things cost money, and money does not grow on trees (at least that’s the line my parents always used). Trying to educate children about financial smarts and the value of money can’t begin too early, so why not take a page from Betty Bunny’s parents and let this book help you in educating your child the next time you take her shopping.