This is one of the books we had under the tree last year for our youngest grandson, a darling little board book that - from my take on it - delivers two clear messages that are true not just for the children this book was designed for, but adults as well. First, that how we see ourselves can become a self-fulfilling prophesy... if we compare ourselves unfavorably to others in our circle (i.e. so-and-so can do such-and-such much better than I, such-and-such comes so easily for others but not for me, I'm not as loveable as so-and-so), and keep re-playing that tape in our heads (perhaps reinforced by how we feel others view us), then what we "see" in that mirror is who we'll end up being. But if we focus instead on what we have to OFFER to others, we can change that reflection to one we feel a whole lot better about! The other is that we are capable of influencing others in positive ways by demonstrating simple acts of kindness and compassion, much moreso than using words to point out faults or telling people how they "should" be, "should" feel, "should" act.
Brushing off the admonishments of his friends to stop being such a gloomy gus, (Ms. Clam with her winning smile, graceful Mr. Jelly(fish), slender Mrs. Squid, and Mr. Eight, an octopus who just lays it right out there: "Your hulky-bulky sulking is an unattractive trait!", the pout-pout fish has come to believe that spreading the "dreary-wearies" is just who he is, and accepted it as his fate. Then one day a new fish arrives, and rather than dispensing more words, she non-judgementally gives him a simple kiss and swims away. Experiencing how good her gesture made him feel, that simple act awakens the pout-pout fish to the possibility of what he himself might be capable of - "spreading cheery-cheeries all over the place!"
At just 2 1/2, we weren't able to explain it in those exact words to our grandson, but he's past 3 now and children at young ages have minds just like sponges - though they might not realize it, those are the lessons they'll begin soaking in with this charming book. REALLY like this book! Sturdy 6-1/2" x 6-1/2" book with thick pages for child-friendly turning.