{Book Review} Ripple’s Effect by Shawn Achor and Amy Blankson

The cover to this children’s book, newly released by our friends at Little Pickle Press, caught my attention with it’s rockin’ title and adorable dolphin.

It has to be among the cleverest titles ever. Seriously.

As someone who has spent the last year giving a lot of thought to the issues of bullying and relational aggression, however, it was the book’s pages that most thrilled me. Ripple, you see, is a dolphin in a new tank–a fish in new waters, if you will–who runs into a nasty dude named Snark.

(Yes, Snark the Shark.)

Naturally, we grownups have all run into Snark (and Ms. Snark, too) in our lives. (This election year, some of us have run into them almost daily on Facebook.) Over time, we’ve learned to either tune them out or “kill ’em with kindness” depending upon the type of snarkiness they leave in their wakes. It takes time to learn these skills, and some kids are especially sensitive to the hostility thrown out by the Snarks of the world. So they need the guidance of a parent to help them manage the nastiness.

What is simply marvelous about Ripple’s Effect is that it shows children how the concept of “mirroring” works for us land mammals. Essentially, in the words of the authors, Shawn Achor and Amy Blankson, “When you smile, my mirror neurons light up, tell me I am the one smiling… We can make a ripple effect of positivity if we begin to choose happiness ourselves.”

Illustrator Cecilia Rebora brings this dolphin’s tale to life in captivating, gorgeous sea colors (blue, green, and white).

Much as Ripple lights up Snark’s life–and helps him leave (hopefully) his life of bullying behind, sharing this book with your youngster gives you a chance to emphasize positive solutions to big, ugly behavior. The trick to making the lessons stick is for us parents to continue the discussion about relational aggression throughout our every day experiences. (The publisher has graciously created FREE lesson plans.)

Curiously, I’ve found that the more we discuss these painful topics with our children, the more that we see evidence of negative, hostile and cruel behaviors in our own “mature” lives.

Yes, adult relational aggression is very real.

Perhaps if we parents teach our children well at home–using books like Ripple’s Effect, we can build good habits in our own “tanks.” And if enough of us do this and in turn form happiness ripples in the wider culture, then we might eliminate a lot of real-life snark.

Explore More:

• To purchase, Ripple’s Effect via the publisher’s website, please click here. This November, use code LPPRipple12 at checkout to save 30% on your entire order with purchase of Ripple’s Effect!

• You are invited to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and now on Sulia, where I’m micro-blogging on the Parenting Channel.

Disclosure: I was provided a review copy of this book by the publisher as part of a “blog book tour” celebrating the publication’s release. The opinions here are entirely my own.


  1. Exactly! So much begins with the individual, but the next step is the home. We are responsible for teaching our children, not just with words, but with our own example, all the time. We all will fall down, or make a mistake, or lose our cool sometimes, but that in and of itself teaches children important concepts as well, such as saying “I’m sorry”. Shawn and Amy have gifted us, though this book, with a gentle, yet fun, way to share the idea of first, making our own happiness, and second, spreading it to others, with our children. Thanks, Pamela, for this thoughtful and FUN post- you spread your own happiness every day!

    • A thoughtful and insightful post, Pamela. So often, what we put into the world is what comes back to us, even in the adult world as you point out. In that case, sometimes just ignoring bad behavior works. One doesn’t always have to engage. Yet even as someone rails against bullying, their reaction often is… yet another form of bullying. I see this in Facebook conversation a lot. “I’d like to punch that kid for bullying my grandson.” That sort of behavior just doesn’t work.

  2. I love this review of Ripple’s Effect! A smile truly is infectious, and so is positivity, even to the Snarks (and Ms. Snarks) of the world! What a great song reference, too. Thank you Pamela, for hosting.

  3. Pamela, thank you so much for your thoughts on the book. I love how you write that “Ripple lights up Snark’s life.” I distinctly remember a bully from my childhood who stole my Barbie yo-yo (I was devastated). I avoided that girl for years thinking that she was and always would be a Snark. Years later, I was shocked when she approached me to say how inspired she was by some of the volunteer work I had been doing. She wanted to be my friend!?! I realized I had a bit of Snark in me as well because I refused to forgive and give her a chance. As an adult, I’ve learned a little more of that little girl’s family story and realize just how much she needed to be inspired by learning that there was a different way to interact. I am grateful for the other Ripple characters in her life that stepped in at key moments and helped her develop into the lovely young woman she is today. As a mother, my hope is that my children will understand just how much their behavior matters, especially for those children who desperately need someone to light up their life.

  4. Pamela, this is the best blog review I’ve read. You’ve brought additional insight to this important topic and this marvellous picture book. You are so correct, adult bullies are all around us, and we can model great responses to their behaviour for our children.

    I can’t wait to read Ripple’s Effect to my daughters.

  5. Pamela, your review is very insightful, and it mirrors the themes of the book in terms of how the positive spreads beyond the individual. It’s so important for children to not only hear and be told about change, but to watch the actions, mainly through the positive and trusted adults around them whom they trust. Bullying doesn’t just stop as one grows up and it is actually ingrained in some folks, but how we deal with it helps to overcome it and is what sets apart the effects it can cause. Thanks again for highlighting such a wonderful book.

  6. Thank you for helping share this positive research with your readers. We know how powerful negative forces can be in our life, but we sometimes forget how powerful the positive can be…

    • This is so true, and can’t be underestimated. I have seen how this works! I tell the children I put on my kindness field when I go out, and it makes a huge difference in how most people deal with me. This is so important for children to learn, especially when it’s considered “cool” to have an “I don’t care” attitude. I also have to say that I think it’s cool that you and Amy joined forces and wrote the book together, what an inspiration for children (and grownups!) everywhere.

  7. Ripple’s Effect can change all our lives and in turn make a difference in the world. Teaching our children sets the foundation for a positive and healthy future. Thank you LPP for publishing another meaningful book.

  8. Thank you all for your lovely comments. (We’ve been out at the children’s museum!)

    We re-read this book aloud last night and I was struck yet again by how simple, honest and powerful it’s story–and message–really are.

  9. I agree with you, Pamela, that this book serves as a catalyst for meaningful discussions between parents and their children as well as teachers and their students about important topics such as bulllying and the power of a smile. Thanks for your ongoing support. We really appreciate you!

  10. Pamela, I know your old friend Bryan B… he has told me about your blog a few different times, then I was at a conference that spoke about you a few weeks ago…and in the final proof that it IS a small world, I now see you’ve reviewed Ripple’s Effect, which has been a favorite for my kids since it arrived in the mail. Thanks for your insight and the reminder that adults can benefit from these messages as well!

  11. So glad to have landed here to read your review of this fabulous book – “Perhaps if we parents teach our children well at home–using books like Ripple’s Effect, we can build good habits in our own “tanks.” And if enough of us do this and in turn form happiness ripples in the wider culture, then we might eliminate a lot of real-life snark.” – BRILLIANT!!!

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