Inspirational author Omartian (the Power of Praying series) encourages children to turn to Jesus in prayer when they are afraid.
This book emphasizes to young children that fear is a common and natural feeling. It explains that there can be “good” fear, such as wariness of a dangerous animal. This fear helps to keep children safe. The author then goes on to depict a wide variety of other fears, fears that are “bad” and make children upset and fretful. Among this category are fears of the dark, of thunder, of bullies, of getting lost, etc. What to do about these “bad” fears? The author instructs child readers to pray to God when they are afraid. She makes it clear that God always listens to children’s prayers and wants to help. The bright but simplistically cartoony illustrations show diverse children in various situations that make them fearful and then depict the children praying about their fear. There is no larger discussion of fears and emotions—just an exhortation to pray to Jesus daily. Prayer may be an appropriate and efficacious response to fear of thunder or scary images on TV, but its utility with bullies is dubious, particularly as framed: “Lord, I am afraid of this person. Keep me away from him until You teach him how to have a kind and gentle heart.”
A bright, cheery book about the power of prayer that’s limited in both scope and audience.
(Picture book. 4-8)
Teaching our daughters how to love themselves is the first step toward the next generation’s owning its power.
It’s heady stuff for a picture book, but it’s never too soon for a woman—even a little woman—to know her worth. Denhollander (the first of sex offender Larry Nassar’s abuse victims to speak out) presents a poetic discourse that resonates beyond its young intended audience. Her simple rhyming couplets speak to the power of image and the messages that shape how we become who we are. The eloquence comes not from the words or phrasing as much as the message as well as the passion. Denhollander, an attorney, a mother, and a former gymnast–turned-coach for a time, delivers stanzas infused with sweet sentimentality as well as fiery fierceness. New artist Huff provides lovely, expressive illustrations depicting girls of many racial presentations in various stages of self-discovery and acceptance. The figures are smiling and cartoonlike, with oversized, round heads and sturdy bodies—though none could be called fat, none exhibits twiglike proportions. Denhollander’s book is unapologetically Christian in approach, with more than one reference to “Him” or a creation by a greater power. With sincerity helping to mitigate occasionally artless text, this is a worthwhile message for young girls who, in an age of shrinking women’s rights, need all the encouragement possible to find their voices and love themselves.
Girls will hear the answer to the titular question.
(Picture book. 4-8)
Rhyming text and colorful multicultural illustrations reassure young readers of God’s omnipresence and still small voice.
“Where in the world is God’s voice found?” Perhaps in ocean waves, bird song, or mountain vistas, suggest the couplet rhymes. Even when readers might be faced with difficult emotions and distractions of all kinds, the text reassures them that God is still there and still speaking, if only one pauses to listen. His voice can be found in nature, in starlight, in the love of family and friends, in dreams, and “through His Word.” Admirably, the bright illustrations, reminiscent of mid-20th-century Disney artist Mary Blair’s stylings, depict children and families with a diverse array of skin tones and ages. There is also a refreshing mix of urban, suburban, and rural settings. Yet, despite the appealing illustrations, the rhymes and scansion are often forced (“your feelings, they matter, / even if they’re all mixed up like / pancake batter”), which detracts from the overall message. Contrived couplets notwithstanding, this title will likely find an audience among Christian households seeking reassuring bedtime reads.
Though the rhyme tumbles and at times bumbles, enticing imagery will lure readers in.
(Picture book. 4-6)