Other than the opportunity to commiserate with the children in these pages (while, one hopes, not picking up any new fears...

THE LITTLE BOOK OF BIG FEARS

Arnaldo explores some of the fears young children experience. 

In this rhyming not-quite-an-alphabet book, one child per letter and his or her fear are introduced, some imaginative, some quite real for many kids: “C is for Claire, / who recoiled from legumes. / D is for Drew, / who hid from raccoons.” Claire’s beans, soldierlike, take up forks and flaming toothpicks against her. “O is for Ophelia, / who stayed in the light. / P is for Perry, / quick to take flight.” Perry dashes by a fence that encloses three (quite friendly-looking) dogs. The rhyme and rhythm sometimes stumble—“cover” and “under”—and even the youngest listeners are sure to notice that several letters are missing, cleverly made part of the lesson: “learn from the missing letters— / to them you must look. They were / GUTSY & BRAVE / and so not in this book.” But while Arnaldo points out that fears are normal, she never gives any advice about how to get over them and be gutsy and brave, so the lesson falls flat. Large, open eyes, downturned mouths, and faces partially hidden mark these kids as fearful, and the illustrations largely show the children’s perspectives.

Other than the opportunity to commiserate with the children in these pages (while, one hopes, not picking up any new fears along the way), there is little for kids to take away from this. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-77147-047-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A cute, Halloween-y take on the old dare-to-be-you moral.

HARDLY HAUNTED

What could be worse for a house than to be haunted? Unless….

“There was a house on a hill, and that house was worried.” Overgrown with vines and frequented by a curious black cat, the abandoned abode fears that she will remain unoccupied because of her eerie countenance. Supplying the house with rounded, third-story windows and exterior molding that shift to express emotions, Sima takes readers through a tour of the house’s ominous interior. At first, the enchanted homestead tries to suppress her creaky walls, squeaky stairs, and rattling pipes. Despite all efforts to keep “VERY still. And VERY quiet. And VERY calm,” the house comes to find that being a rather creepy residence might actually be fun. The realization dawns on the decrepit dwelling with both relief and joy: “She liked being noisy. Maybe she liked being haunted.” Once the house embraces herself for who she is, the plot moves in a pleasant yet predictable direction: A cheerful family of ghosts loves the house in all her noisy glory and decides to move in. Sima’s lighthearted, cartoony style and cozy palette disarm the book of any frightening elements. The gentle, upbeat vibe makes it a fair choice to remind kids that their differences from others are the key to their belonging. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A cute, Halloween-y take on the old dare-to-be-you moral. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4170-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more