Little children can have adult-sized fears—especially about being alone. To help kids cope, these recommended titles—starring engaging, unusual leads—offer creative strategies for managing overwhelming feelings.

Spike, a happy-go-lucky tumbleweed, rolls down a road while being plagued by bad weather and unfriendly characters (a harried clock, an angry pie), and he starts to feel down. Finding a kindred spirit saves the day. Author/illustrator T.C. Bartlett depicts the rewards of optimism and perseverance in The Lost and Lonely Tumbleweed. Our reviewer calls it an “offbeat, heartfelt tale of finding companionship.”

In Donna Neumann’s I Don’t Celebrate Anything!, Annie, a porcupine, worries about not celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa like her friends do. When “the holiday zeal becomes oppressive,” Annie feels annoyed and lonely. She wonders: “Is her porcupine family weird?” Alexandra Rusu’s warm watercolors add appeal to this necessary book, which “affirms that meaningful experiences exist outside holiday festivities.”

Some kids experience profound isolation. Dandelion Child notes that “children in every society experience harassment, homelessness, and neglect; some go to bed and school hungry and aren’t taught to read, and when they’re sick, no one cares for them.” Kimberly Mehlman-Orozco and Jennifer Lowery-Keith’s words depict the world of Dandelion children, neglected but nevertheless able to thrive. Ana Rodic’s exquisite, precise paintings resemble botanical illustrations. Our review says, “Overall, this is a valuable, if often sad, work; however, it ends on an upbeat note that Dandelions can indeed flourish.”

Karen Schechner is the president of Kirkus Indie.