Score: 95/100 (9.5 out of 10)
It doesn't get much better than this! “Garret Bear Learning from Failure” by K. Tang is nearly the perfect children's book. That's no understatement.
What more could you ask for in a children's book? The rhymes are fun and the writing isn't too wordy. The art is bright and nice, however not overwhelming to the senses. The core characters—namely Garrett, his dad, and Teacher Turtle—are lovable and interesting. The tone is uplifting. The moral of the story is terrific, clear, and well-presented. The struggle at the heart of the story is relatable even for adults.
So where do we begin? Let's begin with the struggle and the moral of the story: learning from failure. This can include the discouragement that one feels from not being good at something initially or not succeeding the first time we try something. We can all relate to that. The first time one of us tried to swim was a traumatic experience that involved screaming, crying, kicking, and feeling like the person was about to drown. The first time one of us tried to ride a bike involved scrapes, bruises, and some four-letter words from a supervising parent.
Thankfully, Garrett Bear's experience with failure is not nearly as violent or vulgar, but it is traumatic for the poor bear. We can tell that he feels defeated. The artist and the author do a good job at portraying how he feels by the words in the writing, the expression on the character's face, and the character's body-language or posture. When he is down, not only is he down psychologically, but he is also down physically.
That leads us into our discussion of the art: it is not awe-inspiring or jaw-dropping, but the art is beautiful in its own way. We can tell that it was done by hand, and that only adds to the feeling of genuineness that pervades this book.
The characters are also incredibly cute and fun to see. Kids will love being able to identify which animals are which.
The other nice thing about this book is the writing. The rhyme scheme is simple and tight. It is easy for kids to follow and understand along with the message. We also loved that the key takeaways from each page are bolded and highlighted so that way they stand out. There is at least one error in formatting involving the line “Itis[SIC] not an end point.” However, we are not so petty. We also understand that software often “fights” you when trying to do something as simple as spacing. It happens.
Overall, this is certainly one of the best children's books we've come across!
Check it out!