Book Review: Woodpeckers and Waffles and Bears! Oh My!

Chee-Kee: A Panda in Bearland by Sujean Rim, 2017 (Target age group: 4-7)

This heartfelt story is about a family of panda bears who move to Bearland and their child’s struggle to fit in and make friends. We love the lessons that kids can learn from this book.

  • For kids who are in a new environment (country, school district, etc…), it is a lesson in being your unique self, making friends, and finding self-confidence.
  • For kids who are the “native” bears in Bearland, it teaches them to be welcoming and accepting of our new neighbors or schoolmates.

This book is very timely considering all the discussions about immigration and refugees as well as the incidence of violence committed against those who are seen as “different”. If you’re looking for a book to start a conversation about these topics, this is a good one to start with. It won’t give you the magic words to help you get your point across to your child(ren), so parents are encouraged to think about what they may want to say before reading this with their child. The last two pages from the author about why she wrote the book are a good place to get you started.

Woodpecker Wants a Waffle by Steve Breen, 2016 (Target age group: 4-8)

This clever story is about a woodpecker who just wants to enjoy some delicious waffles and the ingenious plan he devises to get some. We appreciate the subtle message that you can achieve your goals if you just put your mind to it and think outside the box.

The poor little woodpecker gets kicked, swatted, tossed in to the trash, and laughed at in his journey to eat waffles. While this is a good representation of the obstacles one might face when working towards a goal, we recommend pointing out “that was not nice” to your kids as these incidents occur in the book. This will help teach them that they should not hurt others (with their words or actions) or get in the way of their goals.

Despite being told “woodpeckers don’t eat waffles!”, he asked “why not?” and got the other animals thinking about their prescribed animal roles/rules. Just because a species (or a gender, race, etc…) doesn’t typically do something, does not mean they can’t. Stereotypes are for the birds (except for this woodpecker).

(Disclaimer: Tell your kid(s) not to try to feed waffles to their local woodpeckers. Those woodpeckers may not have read this book or smelled waffles. However, if a woodpecker comes up to them and asks for waffles, tell them its nice to share and be sure to snap a picture.)

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