A reflective story about the power of speaking kindly that yields mixed outcomes.
By Cynthia M. Warren ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 4, 2022
A young person discovers that through thoughtfulness, hurtful words can be avoided in this Bible-based rhyming debut. The narrator, a short-haired, peach-skinned child wearing a gray T-shirt and ripped black jeans, describes a day of feeling both anxious and proud. This leads to some unkind words—talking back to Dad, shouting at big brother, teasing a classmate’s hair, and telling all his friends they’re bad at baseball. With each insult, the narrator’s tongue grows. The narrator notices their mouth feels strange and they can’t ignore it. As the narrator’s tongue gets longer, they become more desperate for help. Then, a friend arrives. A girl from a local church teaches the narrator how to make a dam for the river of words. Through talking, the narrator realizes that kindness can reduce an untamable tongue. Warren uses rhythm patterns to keep the narrator’s scansion interesting, with some more complex vocabulary words (obnoxious, ferocious) for newly independent readers. The illustrations are done in pencil and crayon and have varying production quality. As the narrator’s tongue gets longer, the illustrations show more ridiculous expressions, and the image of the friend taming the narrator’s tongue by rolling it back up to the mouth will be amusing to kids. Toward the end, some pages feature no images, which, combined with the varying scansion and complex word choices, may be difficult for younger readers. The visual metaphor for the unkind words is as effective as Pinocchio’s lie-driven nose growth, and the message is clear, though it simplifies the work needed to develop this skill.
Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022
Page Count: 36
Review Posted Online: July 3, 2023