Drawing by Elizabeth Wagele
Source: Drawing by Elizabeth Wagele

After I wrote The Enneagram of Parentingparents told me their children (mostly 10 years or older) were enjoying reading it too! I started wondering about if I could write and illustrate an accessible book that would teach little ones the Enneagram. Before long I had decided to write a story with lots of cartoons for teaching kids from about 6 to 10. Finding the Birthday Cake.

My first challenge was that I wanted the kids to see my drawings as representing types of people—I didn’t want my characters to resemble someone a child might know, a neighbor kid for example, which could confuse them. So I decided to use animals.

I made up a mystery aimed at keeping the children’s attention: an animal is about to throw a birthday party for a friend, but unfortunately the cake he made has gone missing. Animal friends help him look for it. Each one searches in a style that expresses his or her type! Voila: Finding the Birthday Cake

Drawing by Elizabeth Wagele
Source: Drawing by Elizabeth Wagele

Naturally, the 2-Helper is eager to help. Before long the 3-Achiever joins in the search. The 4-Romantic sings a song that is so beautiful she is sure the cake will hear it and come running to see who is making this wonderful music. Each animal uses his or her special gifts to try to find the cake.

I wanted to go against stereotyping, so I made a tiny goldfish represent the most assertive type (type 8).

At the end of each section the character that represents that type says something like, “I hope we find the cake soon so we can have the most PERFECT party!”—using the adjective that might describe its type’s idea of a great party. For example, Freddy Five, the 5-Observer rabbit, wants to have the most INTERESTING party in the world.

By the end of the book we have met all nine of the characters and seen how they typically do things differently from each other. They all want to help and the mystery of the missing cake gets solved. You won’t guess what happened to it in a million years. It does turn up, though, so the party goes on.

In addition, the Enneagram does its own magic by showing children nine different styles of behaving, nine equally good ways to solve a problem, nine sets of strengths. Each style is equally acceptable and equally honored.

Check-lists in the back of the book help kids and parents understand what traits make up each type and can be used to identify the 9 types.

Drawing by Elizabeth Wagele
Source: Drawing by Elizabeth Wagele

Children will recognize themselves, friends, and family in this book and they’ll see that personality differences really are okay. It’s an excellent book to use in schoolrooms and families to further the value of tolerance and to build self-esteem. This short book also appeals to adults and is the easiest of all ways to be introduced to the Enneagram.

• Buy Finding the Birthday Cake.

• For reviews and more information: click on the cover of Finding the Birthday Cake; Helping Children Raise Their Self-esteem at Wagele.com.

• For ages about 12 to 25: The Enneagram for Teens.

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