What Folks are Saying About the Not Perfect Hat Club

 Quote-Julie Framed2

“Why do kids feel like they have to be perfect at a young age? Do adults put the pressure on them, even though adults know perfection isn’t all it’s cracked up to be? In the Not Perfect Hat Club, Jen Ball introduces readers to Newton, a dog who is far from perfect. Newton learns many lessons along his path, and they’re important for children to learn as well. Newton finds that perfection is not about being perfect, as much as it’s about being our true selves. Even adults can learn from that.”
Peter DeWitt, Ed.D.
Finding Common Ground blog (Education Week)
“A sweet book – WELL written – doesn’t whack you over the head . Sophisticated and believable.”
Jennifer Abrams
Educational consultant
Author, Having Hard Conversations 



“Jena where do I begin? As much as I anticipated the end, this story was not only inspiring, but REAL. Even in the eyes of our canine companions, we are but equals. Life can truly be demanding on us. As an educator, this REALITY is very much the broken record of the very fragile lives in our care. We truly are perfectly imperfect. That shortcomings and failures are truly the mark of success and affirmation to strive harder, even when our best seems insufficient. Your story was remarkably portrayed by the DIFFERENCES in the characters that continues to resonate in my mind, heart and soul. That our differences and imperfect perfections, is what makes each and every one of us, Educators, students, parents, et al, ALL members of this wonderful club. A club we should all take pride in being a part of.

“I would hope this book gets to all recommended reading lists in schools, homes, hospitals, organizations etc. Hats off to you on this great read. I certainly look forward to reading more from you as they incorporate man’s best friend and the many challenges faced in this world.  I thank you kindly for affording me the opportunity to not only review your work, but to be inspired by your portrayal of life.”

Barbara Cotter
EDd, MEd, BEd
Technology Integration Specialist
Curriculum Developer and Coordinator

“Jena Ball weaves a masterful narrative that invites readers, young and old, to explore our perceptions of perfection, self-worth and value to our respective communities. Telling the story through the eyes of Newton, the perfectly imperfect canine hero, is pure genius. One cannot help but be drawn into the plight of this lovable dog and his friends, both four-legged and two legged, as they work together to rethink what it means to be perfect.  It was an honor to read this, it really is… freak’n brilliant!  Kudos!”

– Marianne Malmstrom, Teacher, New Zealand

“For all the talk of being okay with failure and learning from it – the pull towards perfectionism is undeniable. The desire to fit in and not stand out too much as different is strong. Getting it right each and every-time. Going above and beyond, and then some; forever striving for something more. Yep they’re some mighty pressures and they underpin the lives of all the characters – human and dog – in the Not Perfect Hat Club. Everyone within this world is wrestling with doubts and insecurities but they’re not alone. They have a support squad and a support space (through the Not Perfect Hat Club) – where they can openly talk and just be – where they can give things a go and be okay with the results whatever they may be. But there’s so much more about this wonderfully affirming world that make it worth your while investigating. Here opportunity, possibility and potential bubble beneath the surface – breaking through as characters come to know that they’re so much more than they thought they were, that they have capabilities that they’d never dreamed of, and that they can proudly stand up for who they are.”
– Greg Curran, Innovation Coach, lecturer, and creator of  the “Pushing the Edge” podcast

“Children will immediately relate to the not perfect animals and children featured in the Not Perfect Hat Club. Newton, the rejected show dog is the perfect protagonist to draw kids into the story. The author has drawn authentic characters who are friendly and high interest to children and yet never talks down to her audience or gets sentimental. She does an especially good job of capturing the relationship between people and animals without making the communication seem magical or over the top. The book is an important one today as children struggle with contemporary stresses and sometimes overwhelming demands. Even the adults are created realistically and sometimes make mistakes or need help from others. This book would be a very popular one in an elementary classroom or library, and would be sure to be on the ‘waiting list’ constantly.”  – Kevin Honeycutt, Global speaker, ArtSnacks creator

“I just finished the book and can’t wait to read it with Sebastian and Valentina. It is a very touching story with so many great characters that were so well described that I could picture them even though I couldn’t see them.”  – Peg Rizik, parent of two Not Perfect Hat Club members in Lecanto Elementary School

“We soon came to know our classroom as a Not Perfect Hat Clubhouse, a place where the students knew their feelings and emotions were safe. A place where they could put their Not Perfect Hats on as they knew they were okay to try and fail because they understood that they would be supported by everyone because it was part of their “First Attempt In Learning.” My students are often heard quoting “I have you got my not perfect hat on, have you!”  – Brian Host
Read the whole story of how Australian educator Brian Host and his class of delightful second graders discovered the Not Perfect Hat Club:


“In recent years, with the constant presence of social media, children’s confidence and self-esteem has become more fragile than ever before. We can talk, we can listen and we can be there for them. But sometimes even that is not enough. Sometimes children still do not let us in. It is in instances like these I have found that carefully written pieces of fiction can break through. The Not Perfect Hat Club is just such a book. It gently welcomes us into a world that every child will want to enter. Then, bit by bit, it demonstrates just how wonderful it is to be different; to be Not Perfect. The Not Perfect Hat Club would make a wonderful read-aloud to younger children or it may become the new best friend that an older reader has been searching for. Either way, every child and adult will come away feeling better about themselves for having read The Not Perfect Hat Club. And really, what more could we ever ask of a book?”
– Jon Harper, Vice Principal at Sandy Hill Elementary School, MD

The Not Perfect Hat Club is a story that with care and respect teaches its readers lessons of self-acceptance and appreciation for others.  It is a charming read that brings social-emotional learning lessons into readers’ lives and helps us understand we are perfect just the way we are.  Who doesn’t need that reminder?   I sure do!”
– Jennifer Abrams, Educational Consultant, Author of Having Hard Conversations

” What a wonderful way for children and young teens to explore their own emotional understanding through the characters. Told by animals, in response to relationships they have with humans, objects and each other, the whole gamut of emotions is described and dealt with as the characters describe events in their life. The value of such a text is not merely in its story telling, but in the side conversations and self identifications students would experience when reading along or discussing as a class. Being a chapter book I see how this could be read by individuals or as a class in segments giving students the opportunity to explore with their peers and teachers, their own real world. Beyond the classroom this such a great way for parents to connect with their own children though story and character. The Not Perfect Hat Club is something every child, adult , and no doubt dog, would want to be a part of! This should be compulsory reading for all middle school students and its something I would hope propels the ideal of it being ok to be yourself into the everyday life of every person, not just children, but adults too! Brilliance and relevant to everybody everywhere!! Thank you Jena!! ”
– Amanda Meyer

“I loved the book and see so many ways to use it with students: The power of love, respect and understanding overcoming bullying is a wonderful through line in this book. The overlap between Jabber, Kylee and Newton and Midge (who became therapy dogs helping children understand The Not Perfect Hat Club) stories are so compelling. I see this as a book that can be read over and over again; either as a read aloud or by students themselves. Thank you for sharing it with me.”
– Faige Meller, Retired Teacher

“The Not Perfect Hat Club book has been fantastic! It has been well thought out and put together to engage a variety of younger audiences. I love that helps me to teach concepts such as the importance of emotional intelligence in the development of a student’s life. It encourages generosity, respect and acceptance towards others. My children are not wanting to put it down because it speaks to them and to the things that they are dealing with. It says to them that it is okay to be yourself and to be unique. Its okay not to get things always right because you are not perfect but perfectly imperfect and by getting things wrong we grow and learn to be better. My students are often quoting “I have you got my not perfect hat on, have you!”
– Brian Host, teacher

“A wonderful “tail” of how The Not Perfect Hat Club began. Told from the point of view of Newton, the not perfect show dog, this gentle story of friendship and acceptance, and pride in being not perfect is a terrific story that will appeal to both boys and girls. Definitely a series in the making!

“As a teacher, I can just imagine reading The Not Perfect Hat Club (with my Not Perfect hat on) to a group of eager students, who at the end of each chapter loudly plead, ‘Please Mrs. Grant, don’t stop there! We HAVE to know what happens next!’
“As the characters, both dog and human interact, and have adventures…and misadventures, there are plenty of opportunities to talk about how words and actions affect those around us and affect how we see ourselves. Seen through the eyes of a dog whose nose is too big and his coat the wrong color, there are many opportunities for easy discussion and follow-up activities. Children are bound to see themselves, or someone they know, in one of the characters, whether it’s Cooper the bully or Kylee the perfectionist or Newton the not perfect dog. The story is capped off by Ms. Ball’s beautifully detailed drawings. These images bring the characters to life, especially the dogs with their toothy grins and high flying fur.
“In the final chapters, as the Not Perfect Hat Club is born; its song and pledge shared, be prepared for the children in your care to ask “What about us?” “Can’t we join too?” And once they do, they’ll want to know when Newton’s next adventure begins.”
– Kendra Grant VP of Business Development, Vizwik
P.S. From Visa: “I had so much ‘Fun, Fun, Fun’ reading this book I could bark for joy! But I do want you to know that not all Aussies are ‘Mean, Mean, Mean’ like Cooper.”
– Visa the Australian Sheppard (and my not perfect ear and hat)

“This delightful video is a wonderful reminder to explore, rediscover and respect the joy of imagining. Thanks!”  – @wellfocused
Here is link to the video:

“Jena is infectious with her spirit! What a blessing that lesson would have been!”  – Amanda Meyer

Your work (and I know I’ve only seen the tiniest part ) is exactly what this man is working toward. You are the Butterfly Effect!
– Beth Froker, National Catholic Schools on Full Inclusion

“She (Bella, age six) she read the book to Zubi (border collie)! She loved it. She LOVED Newton! She was so excited when I told her about it. I wish I had filmed her reading it.She is working on a little thank you video for you!”
– Anna Carswell, Educator, Australia

“Chapter 2 of The Not Perfect Hat Club is the best description of LEARNED HELPLESSNESS I’ve ever seen! This book is a treasure!” – Teacher of students with severe special needs.

“Thank you so much for today. You were a star!” – Craig Kemp, Co-founder of #WhatisSchool

“Love your work Jena!” – Rob McTaggert, Australian Educator

“Love what you do and the positive impact you have on kids!” – Lucie L, Supersonic Minds

“I happily donated for great cause! On behalf of the kid in all of us- Thank You!”
– Sandy King, 5th grade teacher, Utah

“I’ll do everything I can to support you. You guys are great. Love your message.”
– Brett Salakas, edcuator, Sydney, Australia

“I am excited to see this project unfold both as an educator, and as a mom. I want our children to know that learning is messy, and that while striving to do one’s best is important, perfection is not. I want our children to appreciate the journey, to revel in the process, rather than limit their focus to the outcome or product. I want our children to grow up with curiosity and wonder, and to understand that creativity is within all of us, and can be expressed in a multitude of ways. As adults, I hope that this project will help us develop the courage to take risks, to try something new and to be vulnerable. Together, we are “perfectly, not perfect.”
– Christina Luce, 3rd grade teacher, New York

“I have loved your mission from the first time I was introduced to it! Everything you do and are involved with is everything I love! I’ve always had a need to connect with those in need whether it be people or animals! My belief is that everyone has a purpose, no matter how small that purpose may be. The NPHC speaks to me because no one is perfect yet we can all be perfect, in a perfectly not perfect way! This is the essence of what you do. You make everyone perfect in their own unique way! I love you for this!”
– Deb Aubin, Special Needs educator, New York

“This sounds exciting and so terribly important to give our students the “space” they need to grow in their own way and not seek Perfection and at times unattainable “standards.”
– Faige Meller, retired Kindergarten teacher

“Here is the scoop – Jena Ball is pioneering an amazing campaign to target the wonderful differences that all children possess. Her Critterkin books teach children about kindness, empathy, and acceptance. Now Critterkin fans can become a part of the Not Perfect Hat Club where Jena teaches them to embrace their “quirkiness”. Teaching children that they are all unique creatures is so important. Children need to be taught more than just math and reading concepts. We have to teach them about life. The lessons that children will learn with Ms. Jena will last a lifetime. Learning to accept who we are helps us to accept who other people are, and that my friends will only help make the community that we are building a stronger, happier, kinder place for many years to come.”
– Daisy Marino, 4th grade teacher, Texas

“After teaching for over 12 years, one of the things that has bothered me the most is the amount of stress that students feel.  Many feel that they have to be “perfect” in school or else they will get bad grades or not get into college.  Some students never speak up in class because they are afraid they will “look stupid” if they say something that isn’t “perfect”.  Other students have difficulty developing meaningful friendships and have low self-esteem because they are afraid they are not as “perfect” as others.  Unfortunately, I have seen this stress destroy creativity and innovation in the classroom for fear of failure, many students who are wonderful people with many strengths feeling like they are below average, and I have seen many students go through their days without connecting with other students or adults.  These are all unacceptable and something needs to be done to stop them.”
– Oliver Schinkten, Founder of AssistEd Shift and ComPassion-Based Learning
Co-founder of the interdisciplinary, project-based, Communities program at Oshkosh North High School

“Love what you’re doing for the kids and the animals.”  – Awesome Dog

To Learn More or Schedule Your Own Not Perfect Hat Club Visit, contact:

Jena Ball


Phone: (919) 454-9917