Is it OK to be afraid?
William is afraid of many things—angry dogs, stinging wasps, dangerous fires, sharks, storms, the dark, war—but he isn’t ready to open up and talk about them until his grandmother shares her anxieties with him. Grandma is sometimes frightened, too; she worries that she’ll no longer see squirrels and blossoms, that she won’t hear birds sing. She’s afraid of dying and losing all that she loves. Dark, virtually monochromatic illustrations show William’s fears in contrast with the brightly colored depictions of what Grandma is afraid she will lose. As the two communicate and comfort each other, both gain insight; William is left with the understanding that his fears will fade as he grows up, while Grandma comes to believe that she’ll be able to see everything she loves, including William, after she dies. This may not be the right selection for every child. Its focus is on the adult’s fear rather than the child’s; the idea that the child’s fears will fade with time may not be satisfying; and those who do not ascribe to the idea of an afterlife may find it inappropriate. Still, this tale has a warm and tranquil quality that, blended with the striking and accessible illustrations, soothes and comforts like a familiar blanket.
A gentle and reassuring depiction of the cycle of life. (Picture book. 4-8)