The Bold and the Brave
New titles help children overcome their fears.
After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again
By Dan Santat
Best for: Ages 4-8
Everyone knows the story of Humpty Dumpty. Or do they? Sure, Humpty fell off a wall. But why was he on the wall in the first place? And what happened after the fall? New York Times bestselling author Dan Santat tackles this misunderstood tale and gives us the real story.
Humpty is an avid bird watcher. His favorite place to be is up high so he has a better view of the soaring birds. Then one day, Humpty falls. After he is put back together, the physical scars are not the only scars that remain. Now Humpty is afraid of heights and unable to do many of the things he loves. Soon he finds a way to enjoy heights by building wonderful paper airplanes, launching them and watching them soar. That is, until one plane gets stuck on top of the infamous wall. What is Humpty to do?
Santat’s retelling of Humpty’s tale is not about his fall, but of how he responds when it’s time to get up. This is a wonderful lesson for children to learn early and often. We all fall at times. What defines us is not the fall, but how we get back up and what we do when we rise.
What’s good: Familiar story with a new, strong message for all ages.
What’s bad: Some children may balk at reading a retelling of the “old” Humpty Dumpty story.
Be Brave, Little Penguin
By Giles Andreae
Illustrated by Guy Parer-Reese
Best for: Ages 3-7
The team that brought us Giraffes Can’t Dance is back with yet another adorable and poignant story. Little Pip-pip has a problem. He would love to spend time playing with the other penguins, but he is afraid. Pip-pip is afraid of the sea. He is afraid of the monsters that might swim below the surface. He is afraid of what might happen if he dives in. Rather than tell Pip-pip that his fears are unfounded, his mother helps Pip-pip think positively and look at his situation differently. What if there are friends swimming in the sea for Pip-pip to play with? What if the sea is filled with yummy treats to eat?
Andreae does more than share a tale of overcoming fears with Be Brave, Little Penguin. He offers a tangible way–a strategy–for children and their parents to use when facing fears. Though the rhyming text is a little bumpy at times, young children will be drawn in by the vibrant illustrations and leave the book ready to try something new.
What’s good: Strong message with a real strategy for facing fears.
What’s bad: Rhyming text is weak at times.
The Book No One Ever Read
By Cornelia Funke
Best for: Ages 4-8
The Book No One Ever Read is a love letter, of sorts, from Cornelia Funke to all of the authors and books that inspired her to read, write and become a New York Times bestselling author. Morry is a book on a crowded shelf in a very crowded library. He seeks adventure and what every book should want: to be read. When Morry tells the other books around him on the shelf that he wants to be read, they begin to warn him of all the danger: fingerprints, coffee and broken spines. Morry, who is obviously inspired by Sendak and Where the Wild Things Are, doesn’t care. He flings himself off the shelf and begins a journey to be read.
Funke seems to have been having a good time when she illustrated this book. The shelves in the library pay homage to authors Victor Hugo, Beatrix Potter, Freidrich Nietzsche, Alexandre Dumas, Shel Silverstein and many others. The spines of all the books are portraits of famous writers. Try to figure out who each of them is.
What’s good: Two messages for the price of one: Overcome your fears to follow your dreams, and books are meant to be read.
What’s bad: Parents will probably get more from this book than young children.