Monday, September 9, 2013

Book Review: The Not Even Once Club by Wendy Watson Nelson

The Not Even Once Club, by Wendy Watson Nelson 
2013, 32p
My Rating=3.5 stars
Source: Provided copy from publisher for an honest review

The Not Even Once Club is an adorable and appealing way to engage children in a story that will help them choose for themselves to keep the commandments and to never break them. Not even once.

Children will meet Tyler, an energetic boy who is excited to make new friends in his Primary class. They have invited Tyler to join their special club, but first he has to pass the test and keep the club promise.

With illustrations from bestselling illustrator Brandon Dorman, The Not Even Once Club is a fun and engaging way for parents to help teach their children the importance of keeping the commandments. Included in the back of the book are additional teaching helps for parents and leaders.

I'm mixed on this book and have so many different thoughts that I hope what I say will make sense. I liked the overall message in this book but there were a couple of things that concerned me. I read this to my children, who are 12 and 9, to see what they thought about this book and they liked it as well. The kids in the book pledge to not smoke, drink alcohol, lie, cheat, steal, do drugs, bully, dress immodestly, etc. These are all things I've been teaching my children since they were young and I try to live this way myself. This led to a discussion of "So, what would happen if you took this pledge and then broke it?" We then were able to discuss repentance and forgiveness and getting back on track right away. We all make mistakes and I think it's great to aspire each day to be a little bit better than you were the day before. Knowing what you're striving for helps to accomplish that.

I had great friends growing up and know that the friends my children choose will have a huge impact on how they turn out. I am grateful that they also have great friends. Not all their friends believe the same things we do, either, but they are still great kids.

In thinking of a real life application of this club, I would be concerned that a club like the one in this book can be exclusive. I have a brother-in-law that was raised in Utah and he wasn't LDS. One day, he saw some kids jumping on an old rubber tire and having fun. He asked to join them and they said he couldn't because he wasn't a Mormon. That cut him pretty deep. He is now a member of the church but that is still a hurtful memory. I wouldn't want my children to do that to anyone else because they weren't part of their club. 

I also would worry about how my children would feel if they made a mistake. Would they feel like they were the worst person in the world and not worthy to be friends with the other kids anymore? I would hope not but kids' understanding is different than mine as an adult, and I can actually see my daughter feeling this way. Also, would they feel comfortable talking to me about it or would they keep it inside because they wouldn't want me to be disappointed in them? I would love to see a second book written that deals with someone making a mistake and how that person deals with it and how the rest of the group deals with it as well. 

The illustrations are amazing! The tree house is very cool and looks like a fun place to hang out. The illustrator, Brandon Dorman, has worked on several of our favorite books so that was fun to learn!

I would highly recommend reading this book with your children so you can have discussions with them. There is a guide at the end that lists some great resources and ideas to get discussions going. There are also posters available to print out for children to take this pledge themselves. Again, I think it's a great book to help your children set their standards high so they will have worthy goals to work towards and it's not a bad idea for adults to strive to live this way, either.

Wendy Watson Nelson holds a Ph.D. in family therapy and gerontology. Prior to her marriage to Elder Russell M. Nelson, she was a professor of marriage and family therapy for twenty-five years. Sister Nelson has served as a stake Relief Society president, stake Primary president, and chaired theBYU Women’s Conference. Currently, she is an institute instructor and visiting teacher. Sister Nelson was born in Raymond, Alberta, Canada, to Leonard David and Laura Byrde McLean Watson.

Brandon Dorman is the illustrator of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Wizard. He graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho, where he studied fine art and illustration. He and his wife, Emily, have three children and live in Washington, where he enjoys working as a freelance illustrator. His work has appeared in children’s books and on numerous covers, including Pingo, The Candy Shop War, and the Fablehaven series. See more of Brandon Dorman’s artwork at


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