Pilar is painfully shy, plagued by worries and performance anxiety, even in ballet—her favorite class.
To help her through her days, her friend and her mother help remind her to “breathe.” When an opportunity to audition for a ballet production presents itself, Pilar worries that she won’t be able to participate. Between Mama’s encouragement, Pilar’s positive self-talk, and her friend’s support, her performance is a success. Golden’s simple watercolors successfully convey the progression of angst-filled expressions flitting across the little Latina’s face. Unfortunately, the characters’ cookie-cutter angular features are practically indistinguishable except for skin color. Following her straightforward story, Sanchez provides links to websites about childhood anxiety; however, both a cavalier comment in the author’s note and the simplicity of the story vastly oversimplify anxiety disorders. “Anxiety is…one of the easiest conditions to treat with simple coping strategies and cognitive behavior therapy,” writes Sanchez. By implying that shyness, stage fright, worrying, and anxiety disorders are interchangeable issues, Sanchez undermines the effectiveness of her message. Further diminishing the story’s value is the fact that while Pilar practices some of the many coping strategies and treatment plans recommended by mental health professionals, readers are completely excluded from the learning/discovery process—they watch Pilar from the outside.
This well-intended exploration of anxiety is seriously flawed and misrepresents the seriousness of anxiety disorders. (bibliography) (Picture book. 4-7)