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Myrtle and The Big Mistake – It’s not political!

Recently, interviewers have asked us whether the main themes of the new Myrtle the Purple book were taken from the ongoing headline stories about political misinformation and fake news in the United States.

The quick answer is “No!” The longer answer is: “At least, not intentionally!”

Co-author Lauren and I created Myrtle and the Big Mistake from the same source that inspired all previous books in the series: stories we heard repeatedly from children themselves. This one just happened to be about an untrue story being repeated till many people believe it’s true. 

But perhaps children in school playgrounds and adults have more in common than we know.

Myrtle and the Big Mistake starts when someone is hurt by a fast-circulating lie.  Myrtle and a small group of intrepid ‘investigators’ track down the source.  Once he realizes that he mistakenly started a lie that has hurt someone else, Garrett the parrot does the right thing. He apologizes to the person he has hurt. Then he goes back to everyone and corrects his mistake.  

If only it were so simple in the real world.  The very people who should correct their mistakes are often unwilling to do so – or they simply refuse to accept the facts.  As you read this, your mind may turn to American politicians, but remember this: it’s not just American politicians. 

Why is acknowledging our wrongdoing, apologizing and taking steps to correct it so difficult for so many of us to do? Is it pride? Fear that we will lose something? Or worse?

In Myrtle and the Big Mistake, Garrett the parrot does the right thing.  In response, Myrtle and Snapper, her friend who was wronged, forgive Garrett. Then, assured of his goodwill, they show their forgiveness by inviting him to play with their group.

Lauren and I write stories for children that show children solving a problem – often a problem that takes place on the playground or among friends in the neighbourhood.  Children, like adults, sometimes make mistakes and do something wrong.  We believe it’s never too early to pass on certain values. 

But we’re also hoping it’s not too late for some adults to remember these lessons themselves.


24 thoughts on “Myrtle and The Big Mistake – It’s not political!”

  1. Teaching good values as early as possible is a must, but values need to be demonstrated as well, so they don’t become purely cerebral. Myrtle does that by creating easy, child-friendly examples/demonstrations that little kids can understand.

  2. Your effort is really commendable. Good values and life skill teachings must be inculcated in children, through interesting stories. It would certainly going to help them negotiate through life, as an adult, more wisely…… Child is a father of man, afterall!

  3. Cynthia, it’s wonderful how the Myrtle books go from strength to strength and tackle important topics within such an engaging and colourful story. Gentle lessons for children and reminders for us adult readers … although I fear for some it’s too late!

  4. It’s so true that the young years are formative years (not that later years cannot also be). The lessons that Myrtle learns are life lessons for all of us. Psalms, almost.

  5. Oh, Cynthia, you’re speaking my truth. I was just thinking this morning that if only all of us were the youngest of six children, like me. You learn very early on that you are not the center of the universe, that you must share, that the world does not owe you something. All lessons being played out on my country’s national stage . . .

    1. Yes. I am sorry it’s happening, K.
      And owning up to wrongdoing is so very difficult for most of us, but more so for those who feel entitled. It involves a measure of humility and introspection that some see as weakness.

  6. I am glad interviewers asked the question as in your answer you have given the perfect reason for so many of us being Myrtle fans. It is not just making the big mistake it is the fact that it was acknowledged and an effort made to correct it. Those who think they are above the law are missing that most important second part. If only they would see Myrtle as the fine example she and her friends are.

  7. I used to view society as running at about middle school level of civility… these days, I’m not sure that we are much beyond pre-school. Hence, your latest Myrtle story seems just about right (though that is someone of a let-handed complement to your talents, sorry). I have been contemplating the concept of forgiveness on a societal and personal level. I have been working on a post about this for about a week. I’m letting my typos rest for now, so that in a day or so I can see them before clicking the “publish” button. I wonder what Myrtle will be up to next. Plenty of possibilities. -Oscar

  8. You are so right about it never being too early to pass on certain values. Forgiveness and doing right by others will never be out of style, and the sooner in life kids “get” that, the better off we’ll all be. Because there will always be other kids growing up, and adults as well, who don’t seem to have learned these values. Especially when you look at politics, and if they were learned, why are they being forgotten?
    As for Myrtle – undoubtedly, politics is something she could care less about. Let’s play!

  9. It’s not just that sometimes, people refuse to recant. Sometimes, even when they do, people refuse to stop believing the original lie. It’s like the internet has turned us medieval in the way we view truth, or at least the nearest to truth we can achieve because any ‘truth’ no matter how carefully stated, is going to be another person’s interpretation of the facts isn’t it?

    Love that this story has ended up being so timely.



  10. Chiming in here with kudos for another children’s book with a universal theme for all of us–no matter our age. I wonder what Myrtle and company will be up to next?

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