A commendable message artfully delivered but would benefit from more diversity.

Hayley's Courage

In Steiner’s debut children’s book, a young girl displays courage when teased by other children for her unique appearance.

Hayley was born with a large, red birthmark on her face. As she grows older, she realizes that she looks different from other kids. A bright, vignetted portrait shows Hayley as a child, peering into the mirror. Hayley’s mother eloquently explains that the birthmark is simply, “like having a warm glow on your face all the time.” When Hayley inquires whether children will laugh at her birthmark, Hayley’s mother says, “They might laugh at you, but you should always have courage inside you. Remember that you were born this way and being different means being special!” Hayley applies her mother’s wisdom when approached and teased by children at the supermarket and school. Showing poise and maturity, Hayley calmly explains to her antagonists that she is “as pretty as can be.” Her confident declarations charm all. And in a somewhat idealized rendering of children’s behavior, Hayley and one of her former tormentors quickly accept their differences and become friends. In the final pages, Hayley becomes an advocate for other children who are different. Steiner’s writing is straightforward and easy for an emerging reader to understand. In her foreword, the author explains that although the story depicts a young girl with Sturge-Weber syndrome, it’s intended to be applicable to children living with any difference. Moreover, Steiner posits the book’s lesson could be used by caretakers and professionals to open a conversation with a child facing any physical or mental challenge. Aside from Hayley and her birthmark, however, there is a lack of diversity among the white, able-bodied children. Latti’s illustrations, which combine elements of pen-and-ink and watercolor, are colorful and clear, but the character’s clothing and the settings are old-fashioned.

A commendable message artfully delivered but would benefit from more diversity.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4834-1535-2

Page Count: 38

Publisher: Lulu

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2015

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...


With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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