Daily Press (Sunday)

How to live best? Books with advice for kids (and adults)

- Caroline Luzzatto Caroline Luzzatto has taught preschool and fourth grade. Reach her at luzzatto. bookworms@gmail.com.

Young or old, we are all eager for advice. Words of wisdom can come from anywhere, if you know where to look: a bold fly, a rowdy octopus, a downtrodde­n dog, or a girl with special gifts. Check out these inspiring books about life lessons of all sorts to get a head start on being your best self.

“Mabel and the Mountain” by Kim Hillyard.

(Ages 4-8. Penguin Workshop. $14.99. Due Tuesday.)

Perhaps Mabel isn’t the first creature you’d picture as a bold mountain-climber … because she is a cheerful little blue fly. But she has big plans, and the energy to conquer them, even when her friends cast doubt on the wisdom of her adventure. She knows: “Do not listen to those who say you cannot. Listen to those who say you can.”

Kim Hillyard’s droll tale of Mabel’s bold moves is colorful, funny — and, yes, inspiring, especially for anyone who feels that naysayers have swatted them down. Mabel struggles, perseveres and triumphs — and then inspires her once-doubtful friends to conquer their own big plans.

“I Am a Masterpiec­e!” by Mia Armstrong, illustrate­d by Alexandra Thompson.

(Ages 4-8. Random House Children’s Books. $19.99.)

Young actor Mia Armstrong’s book about having Down syndrome — and loving herself as she is — offers compassion­ate, commonsens­e advice about how to treat anyone who is different.

“I know people aren’t used to seeing someone like me,” she writes. “I tell them, ‘Don’t whisper. Don’t look away. Do say hello.’ ” Her experience­s, good and bad, inspired her to create this book and to encourage everyone to be proud of themselves, just as they are.

A lot of children — and adults — get discourage­d by the thoughtles­s words of others, Armstrong notes, but “my real superpower is that mean words bounce off my super shield.”

“You Broke It!” by Liana Finck.

(Ages 3-5. Rise x Penguin Workshop. $18.99.)

This advice isn’t aimed just at children; it’s sneakily targeted at grown-ups as well.

Cartoonist Liana Finck’s cheerful drawings highlight what happens when adults snap at kids for just doing what comes naturally. A chick hatches from its shell, and its mom says, “You broke it!” A worm parent says, “Quit squirming!” And a turtle tells its young one, “Hurry up!”

All these little ones are just being themselves, of course, and a loving parent acknowledg­es this at the end with an eight-armed octopus hug.

“Don’t Trust Cats: Life Lessons From Chip the Dog” by Dev Petty, illustrate­d by Mike Boldt.

(Ages 3-7. Doubleday Books for Young Readers. $18.99.)

Chip the Dog at this point is pretty much an advice profession­al. In his second book, a follow-up to the sage life advice of “Don’t Eat Bees,” Chip digs deep on the subject of trust.

It’s true, you can’t trust the vacuum or that cactus on the side table, but most of all — well, you know how things go between cats and dogs. Chip’s off-kilter advice is always amusing (“You can trust that your persons will be happy when you ‘do’ your business. They are SO proud, they even collect it and put it in a protective wrapper!”) but is perhaps lacking the very best judgment, especially when it comes to making “new friends” … of the skunk variety.

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