As an oldest sibling I have always been ready to defend and protect my sisters when needed, even when I was young. It didn’t matter if I was out of my league (or how annoying my sisters had been moments before), I was going to jump in, growl, and bare my teeth at antagonists.

If I could have gotten my hair to stand up on end to make me look bigger, I would have done that too.

In the long run, however, that was not generally a successful response and one of the most difficult lessons I had to learn as a child was that reacting to unkindness or aggression with aggression was not a viable option in most social situations.

If I complained about mean people, my mother would respond with one those sayings that would make me roll my eyes

You attract more flies with honey, than with vinegar

(Why would I want to attract flies? I would think.)

But I eventually learned that she was right, and that there was a certain kind of peace that came with reacting to aggression and unkindness with kindness instead of aggression.

That is the lesson of the book “Rosie and Friends: One-of-a-Kindness” by Helen Hipp, a children’s book that teaches the benefits of kindness over aggression.

Geared towards ages kindergarten to sixth grade, it shares my mother’s lesson about the vinegar and honey, except with charming animal characters and beautiful illustrations.

It tells the story of Hornsby the rhinoceros who, after battling with another rhinoceros, damages his horn so badly that the other rhinoceroses make fun of him and exclude him from their group.

Sad and lonely, Hornsby wanders around until he meets Rosie the pink hippo and her friend T.L.C. the wise crocodile. The other animals don’t think Hornsby’s damaged horn is a big deal, and are willing to accept him for who he is.

But Hornsby, used to battling with other rhinoceroses as his go-to social interaction, doesn’t know how to use kindness to interact with other animals.

Together, Rosie and T.L.C. help Hornsby understand new ways of making friends and how kindness can help him connect with his new friends.

The book ends with a cute activity where kids can make a horn like Hornsby’s and blow it gently to call to their friends.

Author Helen Hipp has a background in psychotherapy with a specific focus on coaching individuals with disabilities. This is the third children’s book she has written focused on building acceptance, self-confidence and understanding.

The illustrations by Taryn Cozzy are delightful, full of color and action while being sweet and approachable, and they pair well with the story line.

The book is “Rosie and Friends: One-of-a-Kindness,” by Helen Hipp. For more information, visit Rosie the Hippo’s website.

This review is my honest personal opinion. I received no compensation for this review and received a free electronic copy of the book to review.

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