Seven-year-old Veronica teams up with friends to help solve classmate Maya’s problem, launching a series.
When Maya, a little girl with East Asian features in Dockray’s accompanying illustrations, can’t enjoy recess, the little white girl discovers the problem: Maya is deathly afraid of bugs, which ruins the best part of the day. Veronica tries a variety of strategies to coax her friend out, but each “solution” seems to add to the problem. Clowning around to elicit a laugh results in the dumping of a can full of charity pennies onto the floor. A fake spider at lunch has Maya screaming in alarm, which sets off a flurry in the cafeteria that ends with the principal on her backside when she slips on her soup. A real solution is found when Veronica observes her baby sister adjusting to her fear of the vacuum with gradual exposure. Her counselor mom helps come up with baby steps to try. Since 7- and 8-year-olds are often struck by fears and anxiety, this book fills its niche perfectly. Wise adults help the youngsters form reasonable solutions, but the kids are the ones who act on the solutions in a respectful way. The daring inclusion of the word “butt” suits Veronica’s trenchant voice and will summon both giggles and gasps.
Hooray for these young friends who work together; this diverse crew will have readers looking forward to more. (Fiction. 4-8)