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)