BE THE DRAGON

9 KEYS TO UNLOCKING YOUR INNER MAGIC

For readers interested in discovering their inner dragons, Manning writes a book with stories, quizzes, and tasks to help find them.

Growing up is hard to do. There is so much to learn and explore in the world but also within ourselves, which is a truth that is easily overlooked. This book focuses kids on skills that they need to learn to become independent and helpful humans using the device of mythological beasts. Quizzes ask readers to imagine what colors they’d paint their grottoes or what they’d do if they happened upon a flock of lost baby phoenixes. Answers sort readers into categories based on the qualities of their roars or the colors of their magical glows. Interspersed stories relate the exploits of dragons who exemplify some of the personality qualities the quizzes uncover. In these, Manning goes against gender stereotypes with such characters as a brave female dragon and a kind, problem-solving male dragon who learns that he needs self-care and what that looks like for him. Activities such as creating a Venn diagram with another dragon they’ve had conflict with and creating a decision-making chart give readers solid strategies for navigating challenges. Underneath the conceit, Manning lets kids know that being who they are is important because there is no one else like them. Taken all together, this book should help fantasy-focused kids with their self-esteem, confidence, and fears; it’s all made the more enjoyable with Demmer’s friendly artwork.

This book is on fire. (Self-help. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5235-1141-9

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many.

GUTS

Young Raina is 9 when she throws up for the first time that she remembers, due to a stomach bug. Even a year later, when she is in fifth grade, she fears getting sick.

Raina begins having regular stomachaches that keep her home from school. She worries about sharing food with her friends and eating certain kinds of foods, afraid of getting sick or food poisoning. Raina’s mother enrolls her in therapy. At first Raina isn’t sure about seeing a therapist, but over time she develops healthy coping mechanisms to deal with her stress and anxiety. Her therapist helps her learn to ground herself and relax, and in turn she teaches her classmates for a school project. Amping up the green, wavy lines to evoke Raina’s nausea, Telgemeier brilliantly produces extremely accurate visual representations of stress and anxiety. Thought bubbles surround Raina in some panels, crowding her with anxious “what if”s, while in others her negative self-talk appears to be literally crushing her. Even as she copes with anxiety disorder and what is eventually diagnosed as mild irritable bowel syndrome, she experiences the typical stresses of school life, going from cheer to panic in the blink of an eye. Raina is white, and her classmates are diverse; one best friend is Korean American.

With young readers diagnosed with anxiety in ever increasing numbers, this book offers a necessary mirror to many. (Graphic memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-545-85251-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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A painful and painfully recognizable tale of one girl’s struggle to make and keep “one good friend.” (author’s note)...

REAL FRIENDS

A truth-telling graphic memoir whose theme song could be Johnny Lee’s old country song “Lookin’ for Love in all the Wrong Places.”

Shannon, depicted in Pham’s clear, appealing panels as a redheaded white girl, starts kindergarten in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1979, and her story ends just before sixth grade. Desperately longing to be in “the group” at school, Shannon suffers persistent bullying, particularly from a mean girl, Jenny, which leads to chronic stomachaches, missing school, and doctor visits. Contemporary readers will recognize behaviors indicative of obsessive-compulsive disorder, but the doctor calls it anxiety and tells Shannon to stop worrying. Instead of being a place of solace, home adds to Shannon’s stress. The middle child of five, she suffers abuse from her oldest sibling, Wendy, whom Pham often portrays as a fierce, gigantic bear and whom readers see their mother worrying about from the beginning. The protagonist’s faith (presented as generically Christian) surfaces overtly a few times but mostly seems to provide a moral compass for Shannon as she negotiates these complicated relationships. This episodic story sometimes sticks too close to the truth for comfort, but readers will appreciate Shannon’s fantastic imagination that lightens her tough journey toward courage and self-acceptance.

A painful and painfully recognizable tale of one girl’s struggle to make and keep “one good friend.” (author’s note) (Graphic memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-416-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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