Vague, slapdash reassurances to readers growing up in a worrisome world.

THE DON'T WORRY BOOK

Simple comforts for young fretters and overthinkers.

Recycling themes and even some images from The I'm Not Scared Book (2011), Parr first enumerates a selective list of things that can cause anxiety (fears of the dark or of having to go to the doctor, having too much to do, being bullied) and times that worrying can happen. The latter include lying awake in bed, watching TV, "looking at screens too much" (a frazzled-looking person holds a tablet), and overhearing "bad news"—exemplified with an image of a flying saucer, travelers from abroad (of one sort or another) being much on people's minds these days. He then goes on to general coping strategies ranging from taking deep breaths to visiting friends, dancing, squeezing a toy, or just thinking about "everyone who loves and takes care of you!" "Worrying doesn't help you," he concludes, but talking about concerns will. Readers searching for books that address deeper-seated anxiety might be better served by Me and My Fear, by Francesca Sanna (2018). In Parr's thick-lined, minimally detailed illustrations, the artist employs his characteristic technique of adding blue, purple, and bright yellow to the palette of skin tones; he also occasionally switches out human figures for dogs or cats behaving as people would. It's a strategy, though it leaves the cast with a generic look overall.

Vague, slapdash reassurances to readers growing up in a worrisome world. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-50668-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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Useful and jolly.

WE'RE BETTER TOGETHER

A BOOK ABOUT COMMUNITY

From the Highlights Books of Kindness series

A tribute to human kindness, empathy, and mutual support.

In double-page spreads on unusually large board-book pages, different scenarios present preschoolers with a variety of ways to demonstrate acting in concert. A White family, including a very large dog, works together to clean up a large kitchen spill. A group of diverse kids helps a White friend who uses a wheelchair find a lost blanket. Two children, one White and one with dark hair and medium-brown skin, help a brown-skinned, hijab-wearing grown-up retrieve toys dropped by a stroller-riding tyke. The art is graphically clean and clear, with simple cartoon faces and geometric swaths of solid colors against white backgrounds; clear attention has been paid to diversity of racial presentation, gender presentation, and ability. A child with cochlear implants with straight black hair and medium-brown skin can be seen in two of the spreads, and a White child with light-brown hair wears glasses—even, strangely enough, in bed. The project ends with the youngsters in bed dreaming of all the good accomplished during the day. The following page includes quotes from 5- and 6 year-olds and the author describing things they have done to make the world a better place. The didactic nature of the text gets laid on a bit thick with the repetition of the “We’re better together…” refrain in every scene, but the lively art adds much-needed cheer.

Useful and jolly. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64472-328-9

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Highlights Press

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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An invaluable resource that supports ease and confidence.

BEING YOU

A FIRST CONVERSATION ABOUT GENDER

From the First Conversations series

This primer on gender lays the groundwork for affirming conversations and creates opportunities for self-identification.

In straightforward, encouraging prose, Madison and Ralli guide readers through a gentle and interactive introduction to gender, sex, self-expression, and feminism. Beginning with a concrete foundation of commonality (everyone has a body), the lesson continues naturally into specific body parts (elbows, noses, vaginas, penises—the latter two not depicted), all the while normalizing that “every person’s body parts look different.” With that understanding, the narrator transitions into the way grown-ups describe babies as boys or girls when they are born, based on genitalia; here there’s a refreshing (but brief) acknowledgement that sometimes grown-ups aren’t sure but make a guess anyway. Emphasizing joy, wonder, the fluidity of identity, and self-expertise, the text carefully distinguishes gender from expression, which leads seamlessly into a developmentally conscious explanation of harmful stereotypes, unfair rules that give boys unearned power, and ultimately a call to action. Prompting questions invite the audience to deepen the facilitated conversation through moments of self-love, reflection, and sharing personal truths. Accompanying illustrations feature a racially diverse cohort of children learning about themselves, playing with one another, and engaging with their community, which includes recurring representations of disabled people as active participants. The final pages, targeted at caregivers, provide additional means of engaging with the conversation and pointedly challenge adults not to underestimate young people.

An invaluable resource that supports ease and confidence. (resources) (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-38264-6

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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