Be Yourself and Be Happy!
New titles offer stories of empowerment.
By Peter Sís
Best for: Ages 4-8
Peter Sís looks at his own childhood in Robinson and through his tale helps children navigate tricky moments of childhood embarrassment and friendship. In Robinson, Peter and his friends see a sign for a costume party and agree to go as pirates. His mother has another idea. Because Peter and his friends like adventure so much, his mother convinces Peter to go to the party as his favorite character from a book, Robinson Crusoe. Unfortunately, Peter’s friends have not read Robinson Crusoe and laugh at him.
The young protagonist goes home and crawls into bed to escape his embarrassment. While he sleeps, Peter travels to Robinson Crusoe’s island and finds adventure, excitement and himself. At the end of this tale, Peter tells his friends all about Robinson Crusoe, and they all find a new adventure.
What’s good: Fantastic and engaging illustrations.
What’s bad: A little too subtle for young readers.
Princess Truly in I Am Truly
By Kelly Greenawalt
Illustrated by Amariah Rauscher
Best for: Ages 4-8
Most children have big dreams, which is great! Truly is a young African-American girl with dreams and drive. She has no doubt about her abilities. “I am smart, I am studious, I am a high achiever,” she says. “I am confident, I am courageous, I am a volunteer.” Truly sets no boundaries for herself.
Greenawalt and Rauscher combine energetic illustrations with an uber-positive mantra to pump up daughters everywhere. Parents will enjoy the positive vibes they get from reading this picture book as well. Truly fans will flock to this edition. But you don’t need to be a fan to get the message. This is a good addition to any classroom.
What’s good: Strong message of empowerment.
What’s bad: Empowerment mantras are common on bookstore shelves.
Who Killed Darius Drake?
By Rodman Philbrick
Best for: Ages 8-12
Need a good mystery-adventure to get you through the cold winter months? Look no further than Philbrick’s Who Killed Darius Drake? It begins with a bloodstained letter and has everything a good mystery should have: a spooky old house, resourceful heroes, quirky characters and a love story. The mystery is solid and will keep readers working through the clues. If your readers are not quite ready for Sherlock Holmes, but need something different than The Hardy Boys, this book is a satisfactory solution.
What’s good: Fast-paced, well-structured mystery.
What bad: Some readers likely will surmise who the bad guy is relatively quickly.