A girl uses her imagination to handle nighttime fears in this debut picture book.
With her orange hair, freckles, and round blue eyes, Ella McBella is a cheerful-looking White girl, and she’s got plenty of energy for riding her bike and playing outdoors. She also loves just lying on the grass and gazing at clouds. As the day ends, Ella’s jubilation begins to wane, though she does enjoy her dinner and, later, a bedtime story and cuddles. When the lights are out, Ella’s worries begin. She hears sinister noises in the wind, and the shadows in her room turn into scary monster shapes. But Ella takes action to feel better, gathering her teddy bears, reading favorite books by flashlight, and watching the antics of animals outside. Soon, she’s peacefully asleep. In her engaging story, Pells writes rhyming couplets that have a nicely regular meter and vivid word choices: “The shapes change and morph from tree branches to blobs, / growing pointy, long horns and moving in mobs.” She promotes resilience, a laudable goal, but experts point out that frightened kids do need help from adults first—something the tale doesn’t model. Trimarco, an experienced illustrator, contributes playful colored-pencil drawings with cute, Sesame Street–style monsters.
An entertaining and reassuring story, but it puts problem-solving entirely on kids’ shoulders.