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Review: How to Apologize by David LaRochelle and Mike Wohnoutka

How to Apologize
By David LaRochelle
Illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka

Candlewick Press

ISBN: 9781536209440
Grades K-2
Out Now

Find it at:
Bookshop | Your Library

Children’s literature largely began as moral teaching. Many of the earliest books for kids were basically old timey Goofus & Gallant (but, you know, way more violent). A lot has changed since then, and what was once a largely didactic realm has shifted. After scores of subpar efforts, many have come to treat books that seek to instruct with suspicion. Into this modern world comes How to Apologize, by the Geisel Award winning team behind See the Cat: author David LaRochelle and illustrator Mike Wohnoutka. Here we have a perfect example of how-to done right. How to Apologize uses humor and compassion to discuss something vital.

Everyone makes mistakes.

Apologizing for a mistake should be simple, yet we have a hard time doing it right. Humans and our pesky egos, always mucking things up. Through a series of animal vignettes, LaRochelle plainly lays out the elements of a good apology – one that’s straightforward, sincere, and excuse-free.

The gouache artwork has a soft sunniness and sense of humor that invites readers in. The art plays off of the text well, illuminating each situation with a sense of playfulness and, crucially, restraint. White space keeps the focus on the characters as they navigate the dos and don’ts of saying sorry.

An important topic executed with care, How to Apologize is picture book instruction at its best. Every teacher should go out and get a copy.

Review copy from the publisher.

Watch David LaRochelle and Mike Wohnoutka discuss How to Apologize:

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. I love this! Looking fwd to reading it.

  2. Thanks, Travis! I am soooo happy that our book didn’t come across as didactic!

  3. Thank you for this wonderful review, Travis!