The Nice Book by David Ezra Stein

The Nice Book by David Ezra Stein was originally published as a traditional picture book in 2008 and as a board book, a format it seems especially suited to, in 2013. While I think that writing a  genuinely good picture book is a masterful accomplishment, to write a genuinely good, entertaining picture book that has a lesson embedded in it is a rare feat indeed and once that David Ezra Stein achieves brilliantly with The Nice Book. One glowing review called The Nice Book, "emotional literacy at its most basic," filled with humor and "beautifully childlike." I agree wholeheartedly. While it's tempting to transcribe the complete text of The Nice Book here, hopefully I'll give you taste enough so that you'll run out and buy this wonderful book right away, then buy an extra or two to give as gifts!

The Nice Book begins, 
CUDDLE / Nestle 
nuzzle / Don't tickle! 
Well, maybe a little. 
Love was meant to be passed on

And goes on, 
Squeeze . . . not too hard 
Giggle / Scratch
Pat . . . but don't stomp flat!
When you are in a snit / don't hit, 
Say how you feel / Take time

Woven in and out of these couplets describing friendly ways to express love, friendship and connection are gentle, subtly rhyming suggestions for how to handle those times when love overflows or turns into something difficult, which it frequently does with the mercurial toddler and pre-schoool aged audience this book was written for. I wish I had Stein's words, especially " When you are in a snit / don't hit, Say how you feel / Take time" (which is so much more elegant than, "Use your words!") to share with my three children when they were toddlers.

Stein ends his book with these lovely words, " If you have more than you need, / Share, Look after someone little / We're all little, Say hello / Break the ice, And don't forget / BE NICE." Stein's illustrations are vibrant, full of movement and joy and, even at their simplest, sure to make you smile. From the fantastic title down to the last word,  The Nice Book is a nice reminder for everyone, young and old.

Read my reviews of other books by David Ezra Stein

More books by David Ezra Stein

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