Kids Book Review: Noni Says No

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Noni Says No
Tundra Books
age 3-5
by Heather Hartt-Sussman, illustrated by Genevieve Cote
24 pages

Synopsis from Tundra Books:

Noni can do many things: she can give her baby brother his bottle, she can help her mother in the kitchen, and she can even walk over to her friend Susie’s house. But Noni just can’t say “no.” When she was very small, it was easy saying “no” to everybody, but now that she has a best friend, she wants to please. Noni can’t say “no” to her friend, even when it means she has to hand over a precious toy, or when it means agreeing to a hideous haircut, or even giving up her bed at a sleepover. But when Noni finally finds her voice, the consequences are not what she – or the reader – expects.

Early friendships can be wonderful but like all new experiences with young kids, they take some navigating and understanding. Noni Says No does a great job illustrating Noni’s struggle with what she wants versus what she thinks her friend wants. In relationships where kids are comfortable, like with their parents and siblings, they have no issue speaking their mind, saying no. It’s the new relationships, those first friends outside of home when kids aren’t completely comfortable with their relationship that make a child more cautious about their behaviour. By that I mean, they love having their friends and are worried about jeopardizing that friendship. Noni Says No shows this by having Noni always agreeing with what her friends wants her to do, even if it’s not something Noni really wants to do.

This has been a stage we’ve gone through in our home as my youngest develops new friends in her kindergarten class. Noni Says No helps kids understand that what they’re feeling isn’t unusual, everyone wants to keep their friends, but not saying how you feel can only cause a child stress, anger, and frustration. And then the friendship isn’t built on mutual understanding. Some children, like my oldest daughter, have a desire to make everyone around them happy and that’s just unrealistic. Noni Says No is a great way to open the discussion with your kids about communication and true friendship.

Noni Says No is nominated for an Ontario Library Association (OLA) Forest of Reading Blue Spruce Award, which brings recently published Canadian children’s picture books to Ontario children ages four to seven, from kindergarten to Grade 2. Students are invited to vote for their favourite books, from a carefully selected 10 nominated titles each year. Voting is open from Sunday April 1 to Monday, April 30, 2012. Learn more about the Forest of Reading program.

You can find a copy of Noni Says No by visiting your local book store or visiting Tundra Books. Visit our Kid’s Books section for other great book recommendations. What are you reading with your kids?

I have to thank Tundra Books and Rock-it Promotions for my review copy.

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