You Should You Should: The Story

***The first 40 people to submit their email address to "FOLLOW BY EMAIL" (found at top right of my blog) will receive a FREE digital copy of "You Should You Should" if you're still following me when it gets published.  If you already submitted... congrats, you get a free digital copy!***  

Now, time to share my story!

This book targets problems associated with low self-esteem, shyness, people pleasing, dealing with being bullied or bossed around, toxic relationships, developing the self, helping kids learn to be assertive, fear of expressing feelings wants and needs, difficulty recognizing one's own feelings wants and needs, etc.  Social anxiety, depression, codependency, addiction, and their psychological effects.  And yes, this book is very therapeutic for me.  :)  (I'll talk more about that later)

I'd love to know which lessons you pick up in this story, and how it affects you.  If you comment well on which parts of the story taught you which lessons the way you interpret them, you can help me know how to write the "discussion tips for parents" page at the end.

You Should You Should

Written and (being) Illustrated by Ginny Tilby

(Blue text: Hippo)

You shouldn't do THAT.

Instead, you should climb this tree
and dangle upside-down with me.
It’s so much fun, don't you agree?
This is the way that you should be.
You should, you should!
I should? Okay.
If you say.

I guess I'll swim another day.

When you walk, try this you see.
Throw your toes up high and free.
Lift your chin, and stretch your wing.
A walk like mine is just the thing.

Should I?
Yes, try.
Like this?
Reach high.
This walk is hard, I don’t know why.
I should be able! ...Shouldn’t I?

(Lightning Bug):
You probably want a dance that's new.
Here's the perfect prance for you.
Spin and spin and spin around
until your feet float off the ground.
Spin spin! Like me.
You should, you see.
You should, you should!
You should like me.
I should?
But I...
Okay, fine.

I guess your dance is best.
Not mine.

You look hungry. Come and eat!
You should peck-peck-peck this treat
instead of your big messy CHOMP.
Go on! Peck-peck! Like me. Don’t chomp.
Don’t chomp? Okay.
I should obey.
I want you to like me.
I’ll peck-peck away.

Peck-peck . . .

I was afraid of that.

Hey there friend. You like to sing?
I'll help you sing the sweetest thing.
Open wide and sing like me:
You should, you should!
I should? Okay.
It’s not my day.

I guess I'll sing like you.
Your way.

Wear this hat! You must, you must!
I'm an expert you can trust.
We'll toss this frumpy lump away.
You really must. You must, I say.
I must? Okay.
I won't delay.

Goodbye old hat that Mother made,
looks like I found a better trade.

Oh my, your spot! That spot won't do.
I've got the spot that's best for you.
My friend, you should not wear that spot!
Take it off! You really ought.

I ought?
You ought.
But what?
But I cannot!

(giraffe tries to pull spot off poor hippo's back)


I LIKE my spot.

I like my hat!

I don't want to sing like that.
I prefer my LA LA LA!
Not oo oo, ee ee, ah ah ah.

If I peck-peck, I'll make a mess.
But I can CHOMP with sweet success!

Spinning does not help my feet,
for my feet dance to a different beat.

I like your walk, but that's for you.
I have a walk that's my own too.

Upside down is not for me,
and I don’t like to climb, you see.
My head is large. My legs are short. 
My skin is rough. Sometimes I snort.
I don’t grow hair. I don't have wings.
I like to do some different things.
I like to eat. I love a nap.
Sometimes I like to finger-snap.
Today I think that I would rather
swim and watch the fishes gather.
As I float on my backside,
you’re welcome to come catch a ride.
But I won't say “You should you should!”
I'll let you choose it, if you would.

I like you all the way you are
even if you seem bizarre.
But even more importantly,
I am happy to be me.

[page 32—tips for parents on how to teach concepts using different parts of the story]


  1. I think it is cute book can not wait to see the illustrations! Would love a digital copy!

  2. oh Ginny, I really thing it a lovely story, I wish you all the best!!!

    1. I'm glad you like it Jessica. I hope you'll follow me and share it with your friends and family. Thank you!

  3. I think you have a best seller!!!!

  4. I looooooove it Ginny!!! You are amazing!! It is such a cute book :) I think I just subscribed by email but I am not sure if that is what we are supposed to do. I would sooo love to get a digital copy :) Keep it up Ginny, nevr stop writing or drawing :)

    1. I think you've subscribed. :) Glad you love it Sara!

  5. That's a great book that will not only help kids learn to be their own person, but I think it's a story that as adults tell it to their kids, they can have a good healthy reminder of that lesson we all sometimes forget. :) I can't wait to see the pictures!

    1. Thanks Sarah. As an adult writing the story for myself really... I fully agree that it's good for kids and adults. :) We all need healthy reminders.

  6. Very creative and good word choice. I love the language and I know the pictures are going to be great! :)

    1. Thank you! I hope so... I worked hard on the rhyming. I've rewritten those sentences over and over and over to get them right and I think they can still use some tweaking but I feel pretty good about it. :)

  7. Such a hard lesson for us to learn. Most of us with anxiety try and try to please. Even to this day at age 65, it is still hard for me to look out for myself and say NO. Love and wishing your book great success.

    1. Thanks Polly. I know what you mean. I'm hoping that with enough education getting out there for kids and parents, we can save help some lives in the early stages from the anxieties we adults deal with. If kids can learn this lesson early, really learn it, life can be so much more full and enjoyable.

  8. It's Hannah. I don't have an account too hook this comment to so I'm just going to be anonymouse. The name's cute anyway. Just read your story that you put up. It's VERY good, Ginny. Like seriously. The rhyming doesn't sound forced and it's got really great imagery. I know you're a bit worried that you don't have all of the character illustrations done or even decided on what they'll look like but I think you can get some helpful stuff from your rhymes. The Crocodile sounds kind of pompous, the bird's nice and plump from all that pecking, the firefly is trendy and the giraffe is vain. You could get backgrounds and everything from the core of your story which it looks like you've mostly finished. Writing and illustrating have to be harmonious so if you form one around the other it will probably help with that.

    1. Thanks Hannah. Great insight. And I'm glad you could pick out character traits in each of the characters!! That's awesome! That's the great thing about being a writer AND illustrator--the harmony between the pictures and story are easier to develop because you use both to make the story in your head. A lot will be happening in the pictures that isn't told in the text. The background will be my struggle. I love doing characters... I'm not a fan of creating environments for some reason. Thanks for the insights!

  9. I love it! I can hardly wait to see it all put together. I can just imagine the fun characters. I love to read books to my boys that have a meaning behind them that will help them in life.

    1. Good, that's great to hear. I'm excited to show you what I've got so far as far as those "fun characters" go. :) I'll post them soon!

  10. The first "I should? Okay. If you say." Maybe change to "well if you say." Then it feels like the syllables are the same.

    The lines
    "Goodbye old hat. You cannot stay. (Good bye old hat that Mother made) --options
    I don’t like you anyway. (Looks like I found a better trade)"
    I think you use should use "looks like I found a better trade" because later he says he likes his hat, so "I don't like you anyway" would contradict that.

    "Spinning does not help feet,
    for my feet dance to a different beat." Take out the "for" and make two sentences?

    "I don’t grow hair" aren't hippos mammals? so they do have hair/fur somewhere

    finger snap is definitely a fun trick for the kids to do along with the book, though unrealistic for a hippo, but, like I said, fun. Possible other rhymes to try? chap, flap, tap, snap

    Sorry, I started with criticism. Like I said just before, I think it's a fun story with actions that even little kids can do before they get the bigger meaning. That means it's a story for all ages! And animals are so much fun that it will be a hit!

    Lessons I learn: it's okay to be different, you don't have to do things just because someone tells you to/peer pressure, making your own choices. A discussion point could be how to react when others choose differently than us.

    I think it's super terrific! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Holly! Thank you!!! Some great insights and helpful comments! I'm so grateful.

      I also like the "Mother made" lines mostly because it makes the reader even more sad that he's giving away his beloved hat. But I like the line that says "I don't like you anyway" because it shows how he's willing to change who he is and what he really wants, all just to please someone else. In the picture while he's saying "I didn't like you anyway" he'll be throwing it away with a very sad face, so you'll understand that he really does like his hat, and the croc will be placing a new ridiculous looking hat on his head.

      So what I really want to say is:

      Goodbye old hat that mother made
      I didn't like you anyway

      But made and way don't rhyme exactly. So I used "trade" instead to solve that. But what do you think... is a "near rhyme" okay or should I keep consistent with the perfect rhymes?

      Hippos actually don't grow hair. I looked it up before I wrote it. :) Interesting huh?

      I've been mulling the "snap" part over in my mind too. Thanks for mentioning it. I'll keep working on that.

      Thanks for sharing which lessons you learned. Your thoughts and ideas are very helpful! I need to hear what others get from it, because since I wrote it, I can easily put meaning into things but I don't know if they're as clear to others. So thank you thank you! GREAT comment!

    2. Seriously? No hair at all? Even whales have some hair! Not even a little anywhere? I'm shocked. I think I need to go back to school!

      I totally get the rhyme dilemma! "Goodbye old hat that mother made
      I didn't like you anyway" sounds good, but then my head keeps wanting to put a "d" on the end of "anyway" to complete it, so I guess a true rhyme is better. Maybe you can reword the phrase so it says what you really want, like: (I know you've probably reworded a million times, so you don't have to do it again if you're satisfied now)

      To Mom's/my hat I say goodbye
      It's okay, I won't cry.


      I'll say goodbye to this old hat
      Really, I'm okay with that

      Gosh! It's hard! I'm definitely not in love with my rhymes either.

      oh, and I just reread my comment to see that I suggested replacing "snap" with "snap". Real clever eh? Pretty sure I meant to type "slap" (like slapping water? Who knows.

      Good luck again!

    3. Okay so now I'm intrigued and researched deeper. This is what I read, "It has practically no hair, and its smooth skin is quite delicate." Practically no hair. I have since read that there is indeed hair on the hippo. So while we're talking about this, I'm gonna run an idea past you. I feel like that last part is quite out of rhythm with the rest of the story. It's so long, you know? So what if I shortened it to this:

      Upside down is not for me,
      and I don’t like to climb, you see.

      Today, I think that I would rather
      swim and watch the fishes gather.
      As I float on my backside,
      you’re welcome to come catch a ride.
      But I won't say “You should you should!”
      I'll let you choose it, if you would.

      I like you all the way you are
      even if you seem bizarre.
      But even more importantly,
      I am happy to be me.

      That takes care of the finger snap problem too. ;) I like your idea about the Mom's hat! I like how it says "I won't cry." Plus it's a new rhyme sound. I already have "ay" sounds all over the story. I'll be thinking on that.

      Funny, I didn't even notice you wrote "snap" again! lol

      Thanks Holly!! So kind of you to spend time helping me!

    4. Everyone sees things differently, but reading through comments, I would like to add, that as a teacher of 5th and 6th graders, they definitely come in with peer pressure and feeling like they need to be different, wear the right thing, or say the right thing. I think your book will mean something different, or something more, to all age groups, but I don't think it's too early as a children's book.

      Ginny suggested replacing "I am happy to be me" with "I am best when I am me". I like both, but I might like your original better. We have to be happy with who we are, even if we aren't at our best yet (like the pounds I need to lose still :) ).

      I feel a little better knowing this have even a little hair. Otherwise it would really ruin my basic knowledge of mammals. Thank you!

      Your new, shortened ending is great! I didn't realize it the first time, but you're right, a little long before. I wrote "mom's/my" because I wondered if you said "mom's" if readers will think the hat belongs to his mother, not made by his mother. But I loved the "I won't cry" especially since you mentioned to me that he will be putting it aside with a sad face.

      The last thing (for today), I was wondering about the word "bizarre" in that last stanza. Is it fair to call the other animals bizarre when he has just decided it's okay to be different? Maybe I'm going to deep with it though. This is the only thing I could come up with that I think says your idea.

      "You're different, true, but that's okay, (or you're all different, but that's okay)
      I like you all in your own way."

      Again, I'm probably thinking too much about it. You can write your story how you want. And bizarre is a good vocab word.

    5. I'm glad for the feedback on the relevance to the age group here. That's helpful, I was worried. You like the "best" one more huh? Also good feedback. lol Glad to help with the hippo hair dilemma! Sorry for having created the dilemma in the first place. ;)

      So people are liking the shortened ending and so am I. I'll go with that. I'm still playing with that line about the hat...

      I was also worried about the "bizarre" line. He doesn't outright say they ARE bizarre, just that they "seem" bizarre. However... I still wonder if it really applies the way the moral of the story is meant. I like your idea, except that "okay" and "way" are both already used in the story and I'm trying to avoid overusing words and rhyme sounds. But you idea does give me a new direction to work with!

      Thanks again for all this help!! Seriously.

    6. I'm responding here because our conversation is here, though I did get your notice of a new post. Hopefully it isn't confusing looking in both places.

      I didn't express myself clearly enough, I guess, and I quoted someone else but used your name instead of hers....long story short: I like the phrase with "happy" the most. I was trying to say that lots of times we aren't at our best but we need to be happy with who we are at the moment anyway. So I like the word happy.

      I remember you saying you felt those rhyme themes were used too much, but, as you're well aware, finding a phrase that works is tough. If people respond that they don't think it's a big deal about the word bizarre, then don't change it.

      Other ideas to replace anyway because my mind keeps thinking of it:

      "I think the way you are is great
      I wouldn't change a single trait"


      "I think the way you are is fine"
      "so let the inner you just shine"


      "Just to be yourself is best
      even if (it's) different from the rest"
      (and then that takes care of your best/happy dilemna right? ha ha)

  11. Awesome Ginny! One thing I got from the story is to focus on your strengths and talents and stop comparing yourself to others and just be yourself.

    1. :D Awesome. Great, thanks Kailene! How hard is that, to stop comparing ourselves all the time! Well... maybe some people don't have to worry about that... but I know it's hard for me. Thanks!

  12. Hi, I've been following your progress with the book and it is very exciting to be able to see the process unfold step by step. Very inspirational.

    If I had to criticize something, I would say that it is possible that the theme of the story isn't as applicable to the age group you are targeting as say a teenager or adult. I say this because I personally identify with the theme but I cannot see the children I know really struggling with identity concerns. That doesn't seem to become an issue until about the high school age when social pressure becomes a matter of survival. Also at that age there is something to be said for a certain amount of conformity. I'm not really sure that is true for everyone but I wanted to throw it out there as something to consider as you develop the book. It is with out a doubt a very important message for all of us.

    But, overall I think the story and drawings are great and you have a real talent for this. Not unlike a certain hippo, you seem to have found you calling in life. You 'should' go for it.

    1. Thanks TJ! I'm glad you find the journey exciting to follow! Inspired even? Wow...

      So, I appreciate your comments about the theme. I have been watching children since writing this story and have found many are like you said, probably not struggling with this issue. Maybe many don't. Maybe most kids are able to say "I want to leave now! I want the red cup! I want to go outside! I want a cooke!" But... I haven't watched kids around their peers and I feel that is when this problem might arise. Mostly, I wrote this book for myself, because even at my very youngest age, I was the Hippo. I did what everyone else wanted to do. I never stuck up for myself. I was bossed around, bullied, and didn't learn to speak my wants, and eventually stopped paying attention to what I wanted all together. I was just desperate to be liked, and was so worried that if I had opinions, I'd be rejected. Every little kid, I feel, will either be the bossy friend or will be the shy people pleaser. Both can learn something from this book. Even if it's a small percentage. And all the rest who have healthy habits of voicing their inner wants and needs can learn this lesson early in life, preparing them for the upcoming teenage years. :) We can consider this a prevention book. Kill the fear and anxiety before it starts. Teach skills before they're needed. We can say "STOP" to people when they want to touch us (giraffe). We can be proud of what we like to wear instead of worry that we're not wearing what's cool to other kids (croc). We can sing if we like to sing without being afraid people will want to stop being our friends if we sing wrong (monkey). We don't have to change for people. We can be happy with who we are, even if we're large, fat, can't climb, and love to tap dance, even if all the other kids say we should love to do something else, or do things differently.

      Thanks for believing in my "talent" as you say, and supporting me in going for it! Some days motivation to work on it is very hard to find, so comments like this are helpful.

    2. Hi Ginny, I think you are right about getting the message in early before its needed. I have been going back and re-watching old TV shows that I grew up with. I started doing it for nostalgia at first but as I watch the cartoons etc with adult eyes I can see how much of the material is actually adult themed or at least has deeper meaning than what a child might comprehend. Kind of like how Pixar makes movies that kids and adults can appreciate. So I guess those life-long themes are introduced to us at an early age and in hindsight that makes sense.

  13. Ginny, this is Sandy Pfeiffer. What a wonderful story....could have used that for my kids. I'd like the ending to be more affirmative about being yourself. What about replacing "I am happy to be me" with "I am best when I am me"?

    I like Holly's suggestions also and your proposal for shortening the ending. Good lesson on having the strength to not let others define you.

    It would be great if the last illustration were the Hippo floating on her backside with all the others catching a ride. That would drive home the point that people can like you for who you are and you don't need to change yourself to please them.

    1. Sandy. I feel like you connected with this story and that's why you want a more affirmative ending, which I feel is worth listening to. Thanks, I'll think and work on that! And I agree. A more affirmative ending would be better.

      Thanks for the feedback on my proposal to shorten it. Can I ask for all the reasons why you like it?

      Sandy you totally called it!!! I was planning on having them float into the sunset on his belly on the last page. The fact that you predicted it is good because children's books are most successful if children can predict what will come next to some degree, because it helps them in learning and it helps them connect to the book. Thanks for commenting! And for reading :)

    2. Ginny, sometime you should ask my daughter about my character, Tippo the Hippo. That was my way to teach her lessons when I felt she needed something but wasn't ready to listen to a lecture. Tippo had many fabulous adventures and always encountered some situation that was close to something that was going on in my daughter's life. Tippo would always find a graceful way to resolve the issue. I like to think that Tippo's example gave my daughter some ideas on how she could handle the issues in her life. Can't say for sure if it did or not, but I do know that she grew up with grace and exhibited some of the attributes that were modeled with Tippo. We covered bullying, making friends, being adventurous and outgoing and lots of other topics in these stories.

      Hippopotami must be a natural model for a growing child. They evoke the awkwardness that we all feel, but are totally believable as gentle, caring souls. (Funny, that is probably not at all what a wild hippo is like but it is my image of a hippo and how we both created our characters).

      I've always wanted to do an illustrated Tippo story. Your story has a different structure but captures what I had always hoped Tippo could be. You did a great job.

      I did connect with the hippo giving in to everyone else's desire and finally resenting it. I like the way that she resolves it before the resentment grows to anger. An excellent life lesson for a young child.

    3. No way! That's awesome--looks like we have the same feelings about hippos! That's so neat how you used Tippo to teach your daughter--I will have to ask her. :) Very creative. Did you write them down and read them or come up with them off the top of your head?

      I'm glad this story could give you at least vibe of what you hoped to see in a Tippo story someday. Thank you for the compliment.

      Yes, the resentment. You're the first to mention it. You picked up on the feelings of resentment and the hippo's ability to resolve the problem on her own in healthy assertive way.

    4. I wish I had written them down, but, sadly, no. If she was troubled, I knew she would ask for a story so I'd have about 10 minutes while she got ready for bed to come up with the outline of the story. From there, I winged it. Sometimes, if I was exhausted and stressed from work, they got rather bizarre as Tippo would wind up doing whatever I had been thinking about for work. I can laugh at that now, but I'm sure it disappointed her then. Ah well, there is only so much that we can do as humans.

      Would you like some feedback from children? I could ask a friend's daughter if she would read it with her daughter and provide you some feedback? Would that be helpful?

    5. You're amazing. I hope I can do that someday... And yes yes, that would be wonderful! Feedback from a child. Yes. Feel free to keep it honest. If the kiddo gets bored anywhere, I'd like to know.

    6. However, a large part of this story will be told with pictures... so that might be hard. Once I get the dummy book finished, that would be a good idea. Let's wait.

  14. Ginny! This is amazing! I loved reading it and could tell it was definitely from your heart :-D Love you Gin!

    1. Thank you Candace :) It certainly did.
      Love you too, Candy Lou!
      (ah, more rhyming...)

  15. Love Love Love your story! How awesome. Thank you for sharing. I too would love a copy! This co-dependent needs some reminding pretty frequently! :)

    1. I know what you mean Tina! ;) Thanks so much, I'm glad you like it. I'm also happy to hear you relate to it the way I do. I hope you submitted to my blog by email so you can receive updates and help spread the word to others.

  16. Oh MAN! I LOVE this! I had goosebumps the entire read:-) Great job Ginny!

    1. Thanks Sidreis. :) Cool nobody has said they had goosebumps yet!!! Thanks. :) Thanks for commenting and for EVERYTHING. Glad you like it.


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