Free Spirit Publishing Introduces Zach Apologizes and Zach Gets Frustrated, the first two books in the Zach Rules series

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A family counselor and psychotherapist teaches kids how to tame their frustration and how to deliver a proper apology in the Zach Rules series from Free Spirit Publishing.

Zach Apologizes

There are so few people who actually know how to apologize . . . most politicians, for example. Kids will benefit from learning these skills early on—and their parents might learn something new, too.
--Bill Mulcahy

Free Spirit Publishing introduces Zach Apologizes and Zach Gets Frustrated, the first two books in the Zach Rules series written by William Mulcahy and illustrated by Darren McKee. In this series, seven-year-old Zach and his brothers learn how to work through everyday problems like getting along, social issues, and dealing with frustration. Family counselor and psychotherapist Mulcahy wrote the Zach Rules series to teach children social skills and provide practical coping tools for working through the issues that are typical of kids ages 5 to 8. These tools are visually represented in McKee’s illustrations.

The stories are in the Zach Rules series are humorous and realistic (these boys are not angels). In Zach Apologizes, when Zach shoves his little brother to the floor, he knows he did something wrong. Even so, it’s hard to apologize—especially when he feels Alex kind of deserved it! With his Mom’s help, Zach learns the “four-square” apology: 1) say what you did; 2) say how it made the other person feel; 3) say what you could have done instead; 4) make it up to the person. In Zach Gets Frustrated, Zach is having a lousy day at the beach. Zach kicks sand, yells angry words, and asks his dad if they can just go home now. Instead, his dad teaches him the “frustration triangle”—a simple, three-step approach to get a handle on frustration: 1) name it; 2) tame it; 3) reframe it. Each book concludes with a short note to adults to help parents, teachers, counselors, and other grown-ups reinforce the books’ messages and practice the skills with their kids.

In creating these books, Mulcahy wanted to offer practical solutions that kids and their parents would actually use. The skills taught in the books are proven techniques that he uses daily in his counseling practice. “There are so few people who actually know how to apologize . . . most politicians, for example,” Mulcahy says. “Kids will benefit from learning these skills early on—and their parents might learn something from reading these books, too.”

Mulcahy plans to do classroom visits in the Milwaukee area and via Skype to teach kids the messages of the Zach Rules books. He says, “My goal is to provide kids with a road map to building healthy relationships, because that’s what life is all about: relationships.”

About the author

William Mulcahy is a licensed professional counselor, psychotherapist, and supervisor of the Cooperative Parenting Center at Family Service in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Previously he has served as a counselor at Stillwaters Cancer Support Services in Wisconsin, specializing in grief and cancer-related issues, and worked with children with special needs. Bill’s short stories have appeared in several publications. The Zach Rules series books are his first books for children, merging his passions for good storytelling and providing counseling-like tools to help children live healthier, happier lives. Bill lives in Summit, Wisconsin, with his three sons who played their own role in the creation of the Zach Rules series. Find out more about Bill, including information on booking Bill for a Skype classroom visit or a school presentation, at

About the illustrator

Darren McKee has illustrated books for many publishers over his twenty-year career, including books in the Boz the Bear and Barney series. When not working, he spends his time riding his bike, reading, drawing, and traveling. He lives in Dallas, Texas, with his wife Debbie.

About Free Spirit

Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Free Spirit is the leading publisher of learning tools that support young people’s social-emotional health and their educational needs. Free Spirit’s mission is to help children and teens think for themselves, succeed in life, and make a difference in the world. For more information, visit

The Zach Rules series:
$12.99 each / Hardcover / 32 pp. / color illust. / 8" x 8" / For ages 5–8

Zach Apologizes
ISBN 978-1-57542-389-0

Zach Gets Frustrated
ISBN 978-1-57542-390-6

Praise for the Zach Rules series:

“Zach’s feelings are widely recognizable and will be familiar to readers. McKee’s brightly colored digital illustrations . . . do a good job of supporting the text and helping to teach the material. [T]his new series is a useful tool for teaching valuable skills.”—Kirkus

“The Zach Rules series does an impressive job covering the issues of anger and frustration—and the consequences that come with acting on them—in child-friendly terms. These books are a must-read for parents, educators, grandparents, and anyone who cares about helping young people become responsible, resilient, and compassionate human beings. I highly recommend this series.”—Barbara Coloroso, best-selling author of Kids Are Worth It! Giving Your Child the Gift of Inner Discipline

“Zach does rule—these books are fun! They make important life skills easy to understand and do, and kids will get such a kick out of Zach, they won’t even know they’re learning.”—Dr. Michele Borba, parenting expert and author of No More Misbehavin’ and The Big Book of Parenting Solutions

“Zach Apologizes is a wonderful skill-building resource to help young children easily learn how to make a sincere apology. I highly recommend it for both the home and the classroom!”—Trudy Ludwig, best-selling author of Sorry!

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Elena Meredith
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