Book Reviews

NPHC Book Quotes - Jennifer Abrams2

“Why do kids feel like they have to be perfect at a young age? Do adults put the pressure on them, even though adults know perfection isn’t all it’s cracked up to be? In The Not Perfect Hat Club, Jena Ball introduces readers to Newton, a dog who is far from perfect. Newton learns many lessons along his path, and they’re important for children to learn as well. Newton finds that perfection is not about being perfect, as much as it’s about being our true selves. Even adults can learn from that.”

Peter DeWitt, Ed.D.
Finding Common Ground blog (Education Week)
Bammy Award-Winning Blogger/Former Principal/Author

“The book is an important one today as children struggle with contemporary stresses and sometimes overwhelming demands. Even the adults are created realistically and sometimes make mistakes or need help from others. This book would be a very popular one in an elementary classroom or library, and would be sure to be on the ‘waiting list’ constantly.

I love your book Jena.”

Kevin Honeycutt
Global Speaker
ArtSnacks Creator

 “For all the talk of being okay with failure and learning from it – the pull towards perfectionism is undeniable. The desire to fit in and not stand out too much as different is strong. Getting it right each and every-time. Going above and beyond, and then some; forever striving for something more. Yep they’re some mighty pressures and they underpin the lives of all the characters – human and dog – in the Not Perfect Hat Club. Everyone within this world is wrestling with doubts and insecurities but they’re not alone. They have a support squad and a support space (through the Not Perfect Hat Club) – where they can openly talk and just be – where they can give things a go and be okay with the results whatever they may be. But there’s so much more about this wonderfully affirming world that make it worth your while investigating. Here opportunity, possibility and potential bubble beneath the surface – breaking through as characters come to know that they’re so much more than they thought they were, that they have capabilities that they’d never dreamed of, and that they can proudly stand up for who they are.” – Greg Curran, Innovation Coach, lecturer, and creator of  the “Pushing the Edge” podcast

“Jena Ball weaves a masterful narrative that invites readers, young and old, to explore our perceptions of perfection, self-worth and value to our respective communities. Telling the story through the eyes of Newton, the perfectly imperfect canine hero, is pure genius. One cannot help but be drawn into the plight of this lovable dog and his friends, both four-legged and two legged, as they work together to rethink what it means to be perfect.  It was an honor to read this, it really is… freak’n brilliant!  Kudos!”
– Marianne Malmstrom, Teacher

“Children will immediately relate to the not perfect animals and children featured in the Not Perfect Hat Club. Newton, the rejected show dog is the perfect protagonist to draw kids into the story. The author has drawn authentic characters who are friendly and high interest to children and yet never talks down to her audience or gets sentimental. She does an especially good job of capturing the relationship between people and animals without making the communication seem magical or over the top. The book is an important one today as children struggle with contemporary stresses and sometimes overwhelming demands. Even the adults are created realistically and sometimes make mistakes or need help from others. This book would be a very popular one in an elementary classroom or library, and would be sure to be on the ‘waiting list’ constantly.”  _ Kevin Honeycutt, Global speaker, ArtSnacks creator

“Jena where do I begin? As much as I anticipated the end, this story was not only inspiring, but REAL. Even in the eyes of our canine companions, we are but equals. Life can truly be demanding on us. As an educator, this REALITY is very much the broken record of the very fragile lives in our care. We truly are perfectly imperfect. That shortcomings and failures are truly the mark of success and affirmation to strive harder, even when our best seems insufficient. Your story was remarkably portrayed by the DIFFERENCES in the characters that continues to resonate in my mind, heart and soul. That our differences and imperfect perfections, is what makes each and every one of us, Educators, students, parents, et al, ALL members of this wonderful club. A club we should all take pride in being a part of.

I would hope this book gets to all recommended reading lists in schools, homes, hospitals, organizations etc. Hats off to you on this great read. I certainly look forward to reading more from you as they incorporate man’s best friend and the many challenges faced in this world.  I thank you kindly for affording me the opportunity to not only review your work, but to be inspired by your portrayal of life.”

Barbara Cotter
EDd, MEd, BEd
Technology Integration Specialist
Curriculum Developer and Coordinator

“We soon came to know our classroom as a Not Perfect Hat Clubhouse, a place where the students knew their feelings and emotions were safe. A place where they could put their Not Perfect Hats on as they knew they were okay to try and fail because they understood that they would be supported by everyone because it was part of their “First Attempt In Learning.” My students are often heard quoting “I have you got my not perfect hat on, have you!”  – Brian Host
Read the whole story of how Australian educator Brian Host and his class of delightful second graders discovered the Not Perfect Hat Club:

“In recent years, with the constant presence of social media, children’s confidence and self-esteem has become more fragile than ever before. We can talk, we can listen and we can be there for them. But sometimes even that is not enough. Sometimes children still do not let us in. It is in instances like these I have found that carefully written pieces of fiction can break through. The Not Perfect Hat Club is just such a book. It gently welcomes us into a world that every child will want to enter. Then, bit by bit, it demonstrates just how wonderful it is to be different; to be Not Perfect. The Not Perfect Hat Club would make a wonderful read-aloud to younger children or it may become the new best friend that an older reader has been searching for. Either way, every child and adult will come away feeling better about themselves for having read The Not Perfect Hat Club. And really, what more could we ever ask of a book?”
– Jon Harper, Vice Principal at Sandy Hill Elementary School, MD

The Not Perfect Hat Club is a story that with care and respect teaches its readers lessons of self-acceptance and appreciation for others.  It is a charming read that brings social-emotional learning lessons into readers’ lives and helps us understand we are perfect just the way we are.  Who doesn’t need that reminder?   I sure do!”
– Jennifer Abrams, Educational Consultant, Author of Having Hard Conversations

” What a wonderful way for children and young teens to explore their own emotional understanding through the characters. Told by animals, in response to relationships they have with humans, objects and each other, the whole gamut of emotions is described and dealt with as the characters describe events in their life. The value of such a text is not merely in its story telling, but in the side conversations and self identifications students would experience when reading along or discussing as a class. Being a chapter book I see how this could be read by individuals or as a class in segments giving students the opportunity to explore with their peers and teachers, their own real world. Beyond the classroom this such a great way for parents to connect with their own children though story and character. The Not Perfect Hat Club is something every child, adult , and no doubt dog, would want to be a part of! This should be compulsory reading for all middle school students and its something I would hope propels the ideal of it being ok to be yourself into the everyday life of every person, not just children, but adults too! Brilliance and relevant to everybody everywhere!! Thank you Jena!! ”
– Amanda Meyer

“I loved the book and see so many ways to use it with students: The power of love, respect and understanding overcoming bullying is a wonderful through line in this book. The overlap between Jabber, Kylee and Newton and Midge (who became therapy dogs helping children understand The Not Perfect Hat Club) stories are so compelling. I see this as a book that can be read over and over again; either as a read aloud or by students themselves. Thank you for sharing it with me.”
– Faige Meller, Retired Teacher

“The Not Perfect Hat Club book has been fantastic! It has been well thought out and put together to engage a variety of younger audiences. I love that helps me to teach concepts such as the importance of emotional intelligence in the development of a student’s life. It encourages generosity, respect and acceptance towards others. My children are not wanting to put it down because it speaks to them and to the things that they are dealing with. It says to them that it is okay to be yourself and to be unique. Its okay not to get things always right because you are not perfect but perfectly imperfect and by getting things wrong we grow and learn to be better. My students are often quoting “I have you got my not perfect hat on, have you!”
– Brian Host, teacher

“A wonderful “tail” of how the Not Perfect Hat Club began. Told from the point of view of Newton, the not perfect show dog, this gentle story of friendship and acceptance, and pride in being not perfect is a terrific story that will appeal to both boys and girls. Definitely a series in the making!

As a teacher, I can just imagine reading The Not Perfect Hat Club (with my Not Perfect hat on) to a group of eager students, who at the end of each chapter loudly plead, “Please Mrs. Grant, don’t stop there! We HAVE to know what happens next!”
As the characters, both dog and human interact, and have adventures…and misadventures, there are plenty of opportunities to talk about how words and actions affect those around us and affect how we see ourselves. Seen through the eyes of a dog whose nose is too big and his coat the wrong color, there are many opportunities for easy discussion and follow-up activities. Children are bound to see themselves, or someone they know, in one of the characters, whether it’s Cooper the bully or Kylee the perfectionist or Newton the not perfect dog. The story is capped off by Ms. Ball’s beautifully detailed drawings. These images bring the characters to life, especially the dogs with their toothy grins and high flying fur.
In the final chapters, as the Not Perfect Hat Club is born; its song and pledge shared, be prepared for the children in your care to ask “What about us?” “Can’t we join too?” And once they do, they’ll want to know when Newton’s next adventure begins.”
– Kendra Grant VP of Business Development, Vizwik
P.S. From Visa: “I had so much ‘Fun, Fun, Fun’ reading this book I could bark for joy! But I do want you to know that not all Aussies are ‘Mean, Mean, Mean’ like Cooper.”
– Visa the Australian Sheppard (and my not perfect ear and hat)
Copyright 2015 by Jena Ball. All Rights Reserved.