For young readers who need help believing in themselves and for those with friends who do the same.

I AM COURAGE

A BOOK OF RESILIENCE

From the I Am... series

The sixth in a series by Verde and Reynolds that empowers children to be their best selves.

A child with brown skin and straight black hair guides readers through a self-affirming profession of true courage. Far from presenting a perfect display of unwavering bravery, the child reveals that they tumble, waver, doubt, and fear all along the journey of a bike ride (read: life) when faced with obstacles like a dark path, a bridge over a ravine, even a scary dog. The child believes in their own strength and resilience to keep going. That resilience takes visual form in a flame icon on flags that the child shares with friends, a Black child with close-cropped natural hair and a White child with pink hair, helping them to find their own strength. Thus, the child emphasizes the role of friends in nurturing this flame, leaning on one other and sharing stories about scary, hard things. The child describes moving forward, taking a breath, digging deep, finding their center when things are tough—all crucial parts of social/emotional development and growing up. A vivid array of vibrant backgrounds evoke the range of moods experienced by the children, who themselves are drawn as distinct individuals with expressive faces. The text evolves from singular to plural pronouns, ending with the declarations: “We are strong. We are capable. We are important. / We are courage. // And we are triumphant.” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

For young readers who need help believing in themselves and for those with friends who do the same. (author's note) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4646-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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Accessible, reassuring and hopeful.

THE INVISIBLE BOY

This endearing picture book about a timid boy who longs to belong has an agenda but delivers its message with great sensitivity.

Brian wants to join in but is overlooked, even ostracized, by his classmates. Readers first see him alone on the front endpapers, drawing in chalk on the ground. The school scenarios are uncomfortably familiar: High-maintenance children get the teacher’s attention; team captains choose kickball players by popularity and athletic ability; chatter about birthday parties indicates they are not inclusive events. Tender illustrations rendered in glowing hues capture Brian’s isolation deftly; compared to the others and his surroundings, he appears in black and white. What saves Brian is his creativity. As he draws, Brian imagines amazing stories, including a poignant one about a superhero with the power to make friends. When a new boy takes some ribbing, it is Brian who leaves an illustrated note to make him feel better. The boy does not forget this gesture. It only takes one person noticing Brian for the others to see his talents have value; that he has something to contribute. Brian’s colors pop. In the closing endpapers, Brian’s classmates are spread around him on the ground, “wearing” his chalk-drawn wings and capes. Use this to start a discussion: The author includes suggested questions and recommended reading lists for adults and children.

Accessible, reassuring and hopeful. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-582-46450-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught...

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A PROBLEM?

A child struggles with the worry and anxiety that come with an unexpected problem.

In a wonderful balance of text and pictures, the team responsible for What Do You Do With an Idea (2014) returns with another book inspiring children to feel good about themselves. A child frets about a problem that won’t go away: “I wished it would just disappear. I tried everything I could to hide from it. I even found ways to disguise myself. But it still found me.” The spare, direct narrative is accompanied by soft gray illustrations in pencil and watercolor. The sepia-toned figure of the child is set apart from the background and surrounded by lots of white space, visually isolating the problem, which is depicted as a purple storm cloud looming overhead. Color is added bit by bit as the storm cloud grows and its color becomes more saturated. With a backpack and umbrella, the child tries to escape the problem while the storm swirls, awash with compass points scattered across the pages. The pages brighten into splashes of yellow as the child decides to tackle the problem head-on and finds that it holds promise for unlooked-for opportunity.

A straightforward, effective approach to helping children cope with one of life’s commonplace yet emotionally fraught situations, this belongs on the shelf alongside Molly Bang’s Sophie books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943-20000-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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