This well-intended exploration of anxiety is seriously flawed and misrepresents the seriousness of anxiety disorders.

PILAR'S WORRIES

Pilar is painfully shy, plagued by worries and performance anxiety, even in ballet—her favorite class.

To help her through her days, her friend and her mother help remind her to “breathe.” When an opportunity to audition for a ballet production presents itself, Pilar worries that she won’t be able to participate. Between Mama’s encouragement, Pilar’s positive self-talk, and her friend’s support, her performance is a success. Golden’s simple watercolors successfully convey the progression of angst-filled expressions flitting across the little Latina’s face. Unfortunately, the characters’ cookie-cutter angular features are practically indistinguishable except for skin color. Following her straightforward story, Sanchez provides links to websites about childhood anxiety; however, both a cavalier comment in the author’s note and the simplicity of the story vastly oversimplify anxiety disorders. “Anxiety is…one of the easiest conditions to treat with simple coping strategies and cognitive behavior therapy,” writes Sanchez. By implying that shyness, stage fright, worrying, and anxiety disorders are interchangeable issues, Sanchez undermines the effectiveness of her message. Further diminishing the story’s value is the fact that while Pilar practices some of the many coping strategies and treatment plans recommended by mental health professionals, readers are completely excluded from the learning/discovery process—they watch Pilar from the outside.

This well-intended exploration of anxiety is seriously flawed and misrepresents the seriousness of anxiety disorders.   (bibliography) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8075-6546-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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Slight and contrived.

LITTLE TACO TRUCK

A little orange food truck parks in the same place every day, bringing tacos to hungry construction workers—till one morning, a falafel truck takes his spot.

Miss Falafel then brings by more of her friends, crowding out the taco truck. Little Taco Truck whines and cries, but after four days of being shut out by the bigger trucks, he finally takes the initiative. He spends the night in his former parking space, defending his territory when the other trucks arrive. The rest immediately apologize, and after some creative maneuvering, everyone fits—even the newly arrived noodle truck. Valentine’s naïve call for cooperation glosses over the very real problem of urban gentrification represented by the flood of bigger and better-equipped trucks taking over the neighborhood. When the taco truck is the only game in town, the food line consists of hard-hatted construction workers. Then, as falafel, arepa, gelato, hot dog, and gumbo trucks set up shop, professionals and hipsters start showing up. (All the customers are depicted as animals.) The author also inadvertently equates tacos with a lack of sophistication. “ ‘Hola, Miss Fal…Fal…’ Little Taco Truck tried to sound out the words on the side of the other truck.” Sadly, the truck sells Americanized crisp-shelled tacos. Even the glossary ignores the culinary versatility and cultural authenticity of the soft taco with this oversimplified and inaccurate definition: “A crispy Mexican corn pancake folded or rolled around a filling of meat, beans, and cheese.”

Slight and contrived. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6585-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

LOVE MONSTER

Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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