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Anna G. Larson, Published September 02 2012

InDepth: Book helps kids deal with bullying

FARGO – “My name is Carlos, and I have no fur.”

Carlos is one of seven unique cats in Peter J. Goodman’s educational book series that deals with topics such as bullying, communication, fears and illness.

Released Aug. 1, “We’re All Different but We’re All Kitty Cats: First Day of School” is the first book of the series and discusses bullying.

“The key to diminishing bullying is to teach kids about empathy – that all animals and humans are capable of being hurt and damaged – just like all of us,” Goodman said.

Goodman chose cats because he feels that children can relate to animals. The cats are a society of characters representative of a society of kids in a typical school environment.

“Animals can be a substitute for children to tell a story without references to age, race or gender, and they (animals) can be a great equalizer,” he said. “If you look beyond the cats, they are kids in cats clothing.”

The idea for the series was inspired by Goodman’s toddler nephew, Dylan. Goodman pretended to be a cat when he was talking to him one day.

“He loved it, and howled with laughter,” he said. “So, I wanted to write a book for him.”

Goodman can relate to children dealing with bullying – he felt like he was always on the outside as a child.

“As kids, we’re all conflicted at some time whether we’re going to be included or excluded,” he said.

Through the book, children learn what to do if they are bullied, what do to if they see someone getting bullied and how bullying impacts others.

“I look at the book as a means to get parents to talk with their kids about important issues early on,” Goodman said.