Howard B. Wigglebottom likes to fix things. So when his friend, Ali, is sad, he wants to fix her problems. But he learns from his mom that some things simply can’t be fixed.
Ali’s problem is that her parents are fighting and she is upset. But in this book, Ali never actually says this. We learn it from Howard’s mom when she explains why he can’t do anything about it. And when Howard finally does try to talk to Ali, he immediately falls in the mud and starts splashing around.
Kids certainly are not at fault when their parents are fighting, but that message doesn’t come across very clearly in Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns About Mud and Rainbows. I would have preferred to see Ali actually tell Howard some of the specifics about her problems, and Howard to respond with careful consideration, rather than simply talking to his mom and declaring, “It’s not your fault.” The discussion section at the end of the book might be helpful to fully explain the concepts in this story, and adult explanations will most likely be necessary.
Reviewer: Alice Berger