I USED TO BE AFRAID by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Kirkus Star

I USED TO BE AFRAID

Age Range: 3 - 6
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Standard Seeger ingredients of careful die-cuts, lush painting, and child-centered text combine in her latest picture book.

A striking cover shows a wide-eyed girl, her mouth agape, looking to the right and seeming to dread the book's opening. The title page doesn’t reveal what's scared her, increasing readers’ anticipation as the girl cowers behind a chair. Subsequent pages relate that she “used to be afraid of” spiders, shadows, and the dark; each fear is then followed by a double-page spread that resolves it with the line “but not anymore” and a picture that uses integral die-cuts to renegotiate the once-scary thing. For example, the scary spider is not-so-scary when the girl gazes in wonder at its web. Other, more abstract fears—of making a mistake, change, and being alone—are then articulated, deepening the emotional resonance of the character's experiences. Concluding spreads show her running from her big brother, who wears a scary mask. In a clever and honest twist, this fear isn't so easily resolved. "I used to be afraid of my big BROTHER / and I STILL AM!" she declares. Seeger saves the best for last, though, with the last page slyly adding "Sometimes" as the girl tries on the mask behind her unsuspecting brother, and then closing endpapers deliver a pleasing coda of sibling play.

The ingredients may be standard, but the recipe yields a fresh, new dish that’s outstanding in almost every way. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 29th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-59643-631-2
Page count: 40pp
Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2015




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