David LaRochelle

author & illustrator

How to Apologize

by David LaRochelle
illus­trat­ed by Mike Wohnout­ka
Can­dlewick Press, May 2021
Ages: Preschool to Grade 3
ISBN 978–1536209440

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Wouldn’t the world be a bet­ter place if every­one knew how to apol­o­gize? Luck­i­ly, this humor­ous guide­book is full of prac­ti­cal tips about when, why, and how to say you’re sor­ry. From a por­cu­pine who acci­den­tal­ly popped his friend’s bal­loon to a snail who was run­ning so fast he stepped on a sloth’s toes, hilar­i­ous exam­ples and sweet illus­tra­tions abound. For both lis­ten­ers who are just learn­ing and old­er read­ers who need a refresh­er, this book will come as a wel­come reminder that even though apol­o­giz­ing can be hard, it doesn’t have to be complicated.

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Awards and Recognition

Kirkus Best Pic­ture Books
CCBC Choic­es
Min­neso­ta Book Award
Illi­nois Monarch Award nom­i­nee
Ten­nessee Vol­un­teer Award nom­i­nee
Utah Bee­hive Book Award nominee


“‘Every­one makes mis­takes,’ opens this guide to account­abil­i­ty. Every page shows a dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tion in which some­one owes anoth­er an apol­o­gy: when a pen­guin para­chutes into an alligator’s bath­room dur­ing bath­time, when stu­dent politi­cians trade jabs, when a giraffe has bor­rowed a worm’s socks with­out ask­ing, or when a chick­en breaks a goat’s violin…In Wohnoutka’s light gouache illus­tra­tions, the many full-bleed spreads and care­ful use of white space keep the tone friend­ly and focused. With­out ever feel­ing preachy or pre­scrip­tive, the calm, even, non­judg­men­tal tone reminds read­ers that “apol­o­giz­ing can be hard,” but it’s impor­tant to be sin­cere and sim­ple with­out mak­ing excus­es. The per­fect bal­ance of humor and grav­i­ty deliv­ers the mes­sage in an appeal­ing way, and even the most out­landish sce­nar­ios are acces­si­ble. Most of the scenes are entire lit­tle sto­ries in and of them­selves while a cou­ple have slight­ly longer res­o­lu­tions. Chil­dren and adults alike can see them­selves in both the aggriev­ed par­ty and the wrong­do­er, all pre­sent­ed with under­stand­ing and com­pas­sion. Equal­ly use­ful as a les­son on social-emo­tion­al dynam­ics and as a sto­ry, this book has a place on every shelf. A nec­es­sary and enter­tain­ing approach to con­flict res­o­lu­tion.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)

“Humor­ous exam­ples of sin­cere and insin­cere apolo­gies dri­ve the mes­sages home, while the illus­tra­tions con­tin­ue to pro­vide com­ic relief as repa­ra­tion and restora­tion of rela­tion­ships are achieved. VERDICT: Straight­for­ward text com­bined with fun­ny illus­tra­tions make for an instruc­tive primer on how to apol­o­gize. Chil­dren will delight in the hilar­i­ous ani­mal antics while absorb­ing the explana­to­ry les­son with­out didac­ti­cism.” (School Library Jour­nal)

“With applic­a­bil­i­ty well beyond its read­ing lev­el, this lat­est out­ing from the cre­ators of See the Cat: Three Sto­ries about a Dog (2020) and oth­er clever romps focus­es on the impor­tance of apol­o­giz­ing for acci­dents or offens­es and how to do it prop­er­ly. Wohnout­ka light­ens the earnest tone of LaRochelle’s pitch with com­i­cal scenes of anthro­po­mor­phic car­toon ani­mals… Along with right­ly acknowl­edg­ing that it might be hard, or even impos­si­ble, to fix mis­takes, the author clos­es with a promise that say­ing sor­ry and mean­ing it will make you and, more impor­tant, the oth­er per­son feel bet­ter.” (Book­list)