What James Said by Liz Rosenberg Book Review

What James Said by Liz Rosenberg
Illustrations by Matthew Myers
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Release Date: June 9, 2015

When a little girl thinks her best friend James has been saying bad things about her, she takes action by giving him the silent treatment. James, not understanding, tries to get her to talk to him, but she will have none of it. Like any friendship, these two friends must learn how to navigate a disagreement and a misunderstand.

You know how in sitcoms something terrible happens and you think (and sometimes yell at the television) that if the characters just talked to one another the problem would be solved? Of course, then the episode would be over in one minute, but you still roll your eyes at how stupid the characters are being. This is that book.

The first time a child has to do deal with a disagreement that goes beyond a simple schoolyard spat, the whole experience can be rather traumatic. Unlike the unnamed little girl, none of my experiences were ever misunderstanding, but perhaps that is a different kind of story altogether. Like a terrible game of telephone, this mistake happens because there are too many little lips spreading false information. The illustrations are great in that they give a real agency to these two children's hurt and sadness. As with many books on this subject, this is in the end, a story about communication and the lack thereof. This problem with James could easily have been solved at the beginning of the day if the girl had simply asked him about it. Instead she closes herself off and pushes him away. An understandable response that I am sure many children can relate to. The ending is predictable as it is destined to be given the subject matter, but it is an important jumping off point for deeper conversations with kids about proper communication skills.