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EVEN SUPERHEROES GET SCARED

From the Superheroes Are Just Like Us series

Not quite super.

Superpowered beings tackle their fears (after some heavy-duty cowering).

This brave pack of superheroes may have names like Thrash, Zing, and Screecher, but please don’t think they’re fearless. As a gently rhyming text helps to explain, no matter how brave the superhero, they all have to face scary things from time to time, from stage fright and bugs to claustrophobia and the dark. With each of these examples we see a crew of petrified, cape-wearing good guys who won’t be able to save the day if they don’t act. A number of coping strategies are outlined for handling fears, including talking to mentors and questioning “scared inner voices.” The lesson here is not that superheroes don’t feel fear. Rather it’s that “they feel fear, then choose to be brave!” The stylized depictions of superheroes are a lot of fun to look through, though the advice can on occasion be a bit adult and too vague for everyday use (particularly when saying superheroes “calculate risks and make logical choices”). Rhymes scan with clockwork efficiency, though it’s unfortunate that the book does use the problematic term thug, as in “Imagine superheroes…afraid of bugs! / Would that prevent them from chasing thugs?” Both the superheroes and those around them are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Not quite super. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4549-4342-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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IZZY GIZMO AND THE INVENTION CONVENTION

From the Izzy Gizmo series

A disappointing follow-up.

Inventor Izzy Gizmo is back in this sequel to her eponymous debut (2017).

While busily inventing one day, Izzy receives an invitation from the Genius Guild to their annual convention. Though Izzy’s “inventions…don’t always work,” Grandpa (apparently her sole caregiver) encourages her to go. The next day they undertake a long journey “over fields, hills, and waves” and “mile after mile” to isolated Technoff Isle. There, Izzy finds she must compete against four other kids to create the most impressive machine. The colorful, detail-rich illustrations chronicle how poor Izzy is thwarted at every turn by Abi von Lavish, a Veruca Salt–esque character who takes all the supplies for herself. But when Abi abandons her project, Izzy salvages the pieces and decides to take Grandpa’s advice to create a machine that “can really be put to good use.” A frustrated Izzy’s impatience with a friend almost foils her chance at the prize, but all’s well that ends well. There’s much to like: Brown-skinned inventor girl Izzy is an appealing character, it’s great to see a nurturing brown-skinned male caregiver, the idea of an “Invention Convention” is fun, and a sustainable-energy invention is laudable. However, these elements don’t make up for rhymes that often feel forced and a lackluster story.

A disappointing follow-up. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68263-164-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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RUBY FINDS A WORRY

From the Big Bright Feelings series

A valuable asset to the library of a child who experiences anxiety and a great book to get children talking about their...

Ruby is an adventurous and happy child until the day she discovers a Worry.

Ruby barely sees the Worry—depicted as a blob of yellow with a frowny unibrow—at first, but as it hovers, the more she notices it and the larger it grows. The longer Ruby is affected by this Worry, the fewer colors appear on the page. Though she tries not to pay attention to the Worry, which no one else can see, ignoring it prevents her from enjoying the things that she once loved. Her constant anxiety about the Worry causes the bright yellow blob to crowd Ruby’s everyday life, which by this point is nearly all washes of gray and white. But at the playground, Ruby sees a boy sitting on a bench with a growing sky-blue Worry of his own. When she invites the boy to talk, his Worry begins to shrink—and when Ruby talks about her own Worry, it also grows smaller. By the book’s conclusion, Ruby learns to control her Worry by talking about what worries her, a priceless lesson for any child—or adult—conveyed in a beautifully child-friendly manner. Ruby presents black, with hair in cornrows and two big afro-puff pigtails, while the boy has pale skin and spiky black hair.

A valuable asset to the library of a child who experiences anxiety and a great book to get children talking about their feelings (. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0237-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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