Jake’s been a bit of a challenge lately, as he’s at the age where he’s decided he’s old enough to make his own decisions. He’s six, for crying out loud! Apparently, I was the same way as a child, and my mom thinks this is payback. The boy is just like me in so many ways, and I really do want him to be able to make as many decisions on his own as possible, but the not listening thing is getting old. He also has a habit of not quite telling the truth all the time. While some of it is just imaginative tall tales, other times he outright lies. Either that, or my dog Cooper has suddenly developed some very amazing talents, like opening the fridge door.

When I was given the opportunity to review Howard Binkow’s Howard B. Wigglebottom books, I narrowed my choices down easily to two issues- Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns to Listen and Howard B. Wigglebottom and the Monkey on His Back.   The second one is about telling the truth. Mr. Binkow was kind enough to send me both. The title character in both books is an adorable bunny who really wants to be good, but just needs a little guidance figuring out the right way to go about it.

In Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns to Listen, Howard is acting up quite a bit, especially during school. He’s jumping around during story time, not paying attention to what his friends are saying during recess, ignoring his teacher’s warnings about keeping the paint on the paper, and so on. A couple of time in the story, Howard actually gets injured because he fails to listen. Finally, Howard gets put in time out and takes a few minutes to think about what he’s done. After that, Howard starts to listen, and things really go great for him. This is a great story about cause and effect. When Howard doesn’t listen, he gets in trouble, when he does, he gets a special sticker for being the number one listener.

In Howard B. Wigglebottom and the Monkey on His Back Howard faces several situations in which he should either tell the truth or make something up, and most of the time Howard makes the wrong choice. He doesn’t step up and admit to accidentally breaking a car’s windshield with a baseball, he makes up a story about what his dad does for a living because he’s embarrassed to say that his dad just lost his job, and worse of all, he lies about finding special hidden money that he’s supposed to share with others. Howard feels so awful about that last lie that it feels like a monkey on his back. When he starts telling the truth, the monkey shrinks, until finally it is gone.

These are both terrific books with great messages wrapped in a story that children can easily relate to. In fact, there was one part in the Monkey on His Back where Howard hides is shoes because he doesn’t want to go to soccer practice, and I looked at Jake and asked “sound familiar?” because he used to do the same thing when he wasn’t in the mood for karate. The illustrations are gorgeous, with soft, gentle curves and colors. The end of each book contains a great list of discussion questions or topics to really get kids thinking about what they learned.

The books are put out by the We Do Listen Foundation, a non-profit organization made up of authors, artists, teachers, and other professionals that are dedicated to helping children learn important life skills, such as listening and being honest, as well as getting them through some rough situations, like dealing with bullies. The site has some great resources to go along with the books, including animated versions of the books that you can watch for free, lesson plans to go along with the stories, and posters that you can print out that feature the major points from each tale.

Buy Them: The books retail for $15.00, but you can get them for 50-66% off each in the We Do Listen shops.

Win One: One reader will win their choice of a Howard B. Wigglebottom book. To enter, simply fill out the information on the Rafflecopter form. This giveaway is open to residents in the US and Canada, age 18+. Giveaway ends at 12:01AM on 9/8/11. Winner will be notified by email and has 48 hours to respond.