Our morning read aloud was an important one. We shared The Girl who Never Made Mistakes written by Mark Pett and Gary Rubinstein and illustrated by Mark Pett. We have some extra doses of anxious feelings in our classroom. Just who we are. So I thought this would be an ideal book to help us talk about making mistakes and how it is absolutely okay. Even good.
Initial reactions to the cover of this book were a little awe inspired. “Wow! Is she perfect?” And then one student aptly pointed out, “I think that at the end she might make a mistake because people who make books – well that’s what they do. That’s how books happen.” (I love when students share their knowledge of how books and authors work like this!)
This book is about a little girl named Beatrice Bottomwell, who, as the cover clearly states, never makes mistakes. Never. Not ever. So impressively perfect that she actually has fans waiting for her outside her door every morning who regularly quiz her about her error free habits. Her little brother, Carl, ironically is nothing like his big sister. He makes lots of mistakes and delights in this fact. Funny little guy (our class named him “Backwards boy”) does things like play the piano with his toes and draw with green beans while eating his crayons!
One day, Beatrice almost made a mistake. She slipped in cooking class and four eggs went flying into the air! “Oh my!” I exclaimed as I read. “I can’t breathe. I wonder what will happen?” One of the little boys at my feet reached up with his teddy (we have class stuffies that listen along with us – helps with secure feelings. Remember we are an anxious bunch!) “Here Ms. Gelson. You can hug my teddy.” Cute. And then some.
We turned the page and all was okay. Beatrice had managed to land on the floor and catch each egg using a very creative two hands, one foot, one mouth retrieval system. But her “almost mistake” plagued her. Students noticed that she was feeling lots of pressure. While her little brother balanced his plate on his head and held his spoon with his toes, she barely touched her dinner. Beatrice had a talent contest that evening and she was anxious she would mess up.”Not you, ” her Dad assured.
Beatrice prepared for her juggling routine by grabbing her hamster, a salt shaker and a water balloon. She went up on stage to cries of “That’s her! The girl who never makes mistakes!” She started to juggle. She always performed this routing flawlessly. Then Beatrice noticed that the flecks coming out of the salt shaker were not white . . . Uh. Oh. We caught on pretty quickly! “It’s pepper!” “The hamster will sneeze!” “She is about to make a mistake!” The sneeze is humongous! “Just how hard can a hamster sneeze?” asked one student. And, if you are thinking about this little scene, you can imagine what happens. The haster sneezes, his claws scratch the balloon and KABLOOIE (we practiced saying this a bunch of times. It is pretty fun!) Beatrice is drenched and a hamster is perched precariously atop her head. Everything and everyone was still. Students observed that she must be feeling sad that she had made a mistake. Some also noted that it really isn’t possible to be perfect.
But then . . . Beatrice began to giggle. Eventually she was laugh out loud laughing and it was contagious. The audience laughed along with her. That night, Beatrice had her best sleep ever. The next day she began to do things without perfection in mind. Skating and slipping. Messy lunches. Lots of laughter. And not so many worries.
What was our response?
“At first she made no mistakes. Now, she likes making mistakes. People aren’t mad at her. It can be funny when you make mistakes and everyone can laugh together.”
“If you think you have to be perfect, it is hard to make friends because everyone else seems normal and you can’t be happy.”
An important read for our class. An important read for any class. Mistakes are how we grow. They make us human. They give us the freedom to relax and try new things. This little book is a great reminder of all of that!