Well-intentioned cheerleading falls flat.
Richmond endeavors here to exhort those stellar qualities that squire us past the inevitable bumps in the road of life. Have a moment of weakness? “I believe in your brave spirit.” Your best friend treats you unkindly? “I believe in your playful heart.” Smart thinking, awesome skills, true courage, stand-up truth—no one would say these attributes aren’t worthy, but it is difficult to imagine how young readers are going to make them their own via these watery watercolors and chirpy, sometimes atonal verses: “When the day dips up and down / like a roller coaster ride, / I believe in your quick laugh / to love the lows and highs.” Shrug them off, maybe, but why would a quick laugh result in loving the lows in your day? To salute a child’s great attitude in persevering through something new and difficult is well and good, but what is a kid supposed to make of, “When you look into the mirror / and question who you see, / I believe in your true beauty / that shines through from you to me”?
Despite its overall good intentions, the book feels rushed and ill considered, with little offered by way of identification to get readers involved. (Picture book. 4-8)