Practical and empowering for young ones learning how to emotionally attend to themselves and others.

I AM LOVE

A BOOK OF COMPASSION

From the I Am... series

In the latest I Am… series installment by yoga teacher Verde and illustrator Reynolds, a child describes how to share love with those struggling with hard emotions.

A thin, light-brown–skinned kid with blue and pink hair spots another child “going through a storm / of hurt and unfairness, of anger and sadness”—how should they respond? With hands on their heart, the candy-haired protagonist “find[s] the answer: I have compassion… / I am love.” The gentle narrative follows a simple formula in which different ways of attending to others are named along with a simple statement of what love can be: “Love is comfort”; “Love is effort”; “Love is tiny gestures.” Emphasizing Verde’s common themes of mindfulness and emotional presence, the main character demonstrates expressions of love ranging from keeping their own “mind and body safe and healthy” to careful listening to others. Supporting characters in this jewel-toned meditation include a white kid with long blond hair, a black child with a curly purple afropuff, and a tan-skinned youth with short black hair and a colorful taqiyah. To elaborate on the benefits of “opening and expanding” the heart (both literally and emotionally), Verde provides extensive backmatter, including yoga poses and a heart meditation. These addenda enrich the narrative and provide useful context for the relationship skills outlined in the text.

Practical and empowering for young ones learning how to emotionally attend to themselves and others. (Picture book. 5-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3726-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 1, 2019

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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.

I'M NOT SCARED, YOU'RE SCARED

Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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Medically, both squicky and hopeful; emotionally, unbelievably squeaky-clean.

MUSTACHES FOR MADDIE

A 12-year-old copes with a brain tumor.

Maddie likes potatoes and fake mustaches. Kids at school are nice (except one whom readers will see instantly is a bully); soon they’ll get to perform Shakespeare scenes in a unit they’ve all been looking forward to. But recent dysfunctions in Maddie’s arm and leg mean, stunningly, that she has a brain tumor. She has two surgeries, the first successful, the second taking place after the book’s end, leaving readers hanging. The tumor’s not malignant, but it—or the surgeries—could cause sight loss, personality change, or death. The descriptions of surgery aren’t for the faint of heart. The authors—parents of a real-life Maddie who really had a brain tumor—imbue fictional Maddie’s first-person narration with quirky turns of phrase (“For the love of potatoes!”) and whimsy (she imagines her medical battles as epic fantasy fights and pretends MRI stands for Mustard Rat from Indiana or Mustaches Rock Importantly), but they also portray her as a model sick kid. She’s frightened but never acts out, snaps, or resists. Her most frequent commentary about the tumor, having her skull opened, and the possibility of death is “Boo” or “Super boo.” She even shoulders the bully’s redemption. Maddie and most characters are white; one cringe-inducing hallucinatory surgery dream involves “chanting island natives” and a “witch doctor lady.”

Medically, both squicky and hopeful; emotionally, unbelievably squeaky-clean. (authors’ note, discussion questions) (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62972-330-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Shadow Mountain

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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