Author P.T Finch teams with illustrator Gokhan Bas to teach children a lesson on empathy
Author-artist team P.T Finch and Gokhan Bas are looking to build a series of books that teach toddlers about empathy. Finch, a resident of New York City, is passionate about not only breaking down and explaining empathy to children, but also showing parents how they can play a role. Start With Sorry is also the start of the series, with a second book due out shortly.
Start With Sorry – Story Review
Three and four-year old siblings Luna and Asher have a typical sister-brother relationship. Asher, the elder, is bit more advanced and when they draw together, his experience shows. Luna grows frustrated that she cannot match her brother’s artistic talents. Eventually she acts out, breaking her brother’s crayons and tearing up his drawings. But the resulting tears her brother sheds catch her off guard.
Finch tip-toes into this highly relatable conflict in a way that eases children into a situation they understand. I found it a little odd that it is told in past tense, but I warmed to it. The measured approach can help show kids both sides of the story in how conflicts like this can occur. The resulting apologies and cooperative play time are likely to feel a little convenient for most parents. Certainly none of my kids could ever have voiced their emotions so succinctly, but perhaps that’s the point. The resolution is aspirational.
In this respect, Finch’s tale comes from the same school of modern children’s TV. It’s focused on delivering its message about empathy and positive thinking, and doesn’t hide that within a grander setting or style. For parents with squabbling siblings looking to get that message across, Start With Sorry can be quite a valuable tool. It’s also a champion for greater cultural diversity in the library of available children’s books. Perhaps in itself a subtle reinforcement of the theme of empathy.
Start With Sorry – Design Review
I quite like the mix of styles and perspectives that Bas has used to give readers a fly-on-the-wall view of Luna and Asher’s conflict. At times we view the events unfolding from a security camera-like perspective, looking down on them. Then it’s a first-person look at the children’s art as if seen through their eyes. With the latter, Bas has done a great job of creating a hand-drawn style that sits at odds to the environment. Even if the quality of these kid’s work is well beyond that of any three or four-year-old I know. I would have liked to have seen more emotive and exaggerated facial expressions, but overall, the art fits the story nicely.
The design is a little bit odd in digital kindle form. It’s clear it was original conceived and drawn as a square book, and then later turned into a more rectangular form for publication. There is a print edition available, however, for those so inclined. Either way, it remains clear and easy to read, and the impact of the images isn’t lessened as a result.
Some parents may find Start With Sorry a little too long and its setting too convenient, but the book does achieve its goal. Finch wants to open up the concept of empathy to kids in a way they can understand, and he has succeeded.
Where to Next?
Are you looking for more great children’s books? Then visit the Old Mate Media library. If you’re an author or illustrator looking to make their own children’s book, then visit our services in the main menu, or read our step-by-step guide. For authors and illustrators already published who would like to have their book reviewed, then head here to learn more.