Be Brave – Picture Books that Celebrate Overcoming Doubts

Being brave, is less about being courageous and more about ignoring your fear because you simply cannot afford to waste any more time on it. Overcoming doubts and anxieties is something children face every day. Picture books like these encourage a heightened awareness of one’s own feelings and capabilities and in doing so banish fears and promote determination.

Where’s Bear? by Sarah Elliott Smyth and Nicky Johnston

Sophie represents a whole playground of children who spiral into anguish after they lose a precious toy, or in their eyes, a stalwart playmate. When Bear goes missing, Sophie embarks on an apprehension-filled journey in search of him that will have little ones perched on the edge of their seats. Thankfully, the cute ending reunites and delights. Johnston’s winsome illustrations elevate this heart-warming story of facing your fears and tenacity to the next level. Utterly endearing, this story will warm the cockles of your heart and encourage very young children to ‘never stop hoping’.

Empowering Resources February 2018

Finn and Puss by Robert Vescio & Melissa Mackie

There’s an enticing feel about the sparsity of this latest picture book by Vescio; so unlike any of his others. The crisp staccato tone of this narrative deftly allows young readers to identify with the moral dilemma presented to Finn when he happens across little lost Puss. Puss fills Finn’s lonely gaps but he belongs to someone else. Somehow, Finn finds the fortitude to make the right decision and reunite Puss with his rightful owners despite this being an emotionally difficult choice to make.

Finn and Puss is a heart-warming tale, sympathetically illustrated by Melissa Mackie that suggests kindness and generosity eventually become their own rewards. The notion that small personal emotional sacrifices are worth making for the good of others is exceedingly complex for youngsters to grasp at times. This book calmly illustrates this ideal in a way youngsters can identify with. Perfect for kiddies aged four and above.

EK Books October 2017

Scaredy Book by Devon Sillett and Cara King

The subtitle of Devon Sillett’s second picture sums up one of life’s most self-evident truisms, ‘It’s not always easy being brave!’ This is especially true for Book who loves the warm safe haven of his library. From his cosy book nook, he can view the world, or at least the safe, clean parts of it. He watches his book buddies come and go and occasionally, Book thinks he might like to go on adventures like them outside of the library. Then he remembers the state in which some of them return, some not even returning at all, and this fills him with unreasonable dread.

He then meets Emma. Emma cherishes the library as much as he does although, some of Emma’s grandest adventures take place within it, not outside. Emma is ‘quiet, full of pizazz, gumption and courage’, qualities Book yearns to explore and experience. Eventually, with Emma’s help, he learns to appreciate the great outdoors and even grows to love it.

Sillett’s energetic yet compassionate prose coupled with King’s soft pastel infused illustrations melt into a story that allows children to step outside of their perceived comfort zones and understand the worth of being brave. It’s also a lovely shout out for the estimable qualities of books and reading with more than a passing nudge to those sublime refuges, libraries. Great to snuggle up and share with 4 – 8 year-olds.

EK Books May 2018

Ash Dresses Her Friends by Fu Wenzheng

Ash is small, demure and lives on her own. People assume she is quiet and shy. Ash wishes for someone to play with then meets an elephant who is in need of a new shirt and cheering up. Ash is an exceptional seamstress and with the procurement of some ‘beautiful red patterned material’ she not only whips up a new shirt for elephant but a veritable wardrobe of fashionable delights for the friends of the forest.

Creating material gifts to share with them fulfils Ash however when the cloth is gone, so too are her newfound friends and she is disheartened, fearing that she has lost their love. Fortunately, her friends are not as fickle as that, rejoicing in all the things she’s made and loving them as much as they love her.

This is an interesting tale reflecting on sharing and helping others in need. It demonstrates on the strength of creativity in pulling people closer together and suggests that friendship is more significant than material goods. Making friends may be the most natural thing in the world for some kids. For others it’s a torturous rite of passage laced with numerous emotions and fears. This story helps dispel those fears with the use of just a two-colour palette and a small, quiet azure-winged magpie named, Ash. Share this with 3 – 6 year-olds.

New Frontier Publishing February 2018

I Wish I Could Be A Superhero by Susan Hall and Cheryl Westenberg

Don’t we all wish we could be – superheroes – although this is a concept probably visited more often by 2 – 8 year-olds. Wesley Wombat is no different. He dreams about flying, swimming under water, and jumping really high just like his other superhero friends. However, he just can’t seem to conjure up the right special superhero powers, failing each time with a clunk and an ‘ouch’! Until one very hot day Wesley, who conveniently is already sporting his superhero cape and mask, must rescue his friends from a terrible fire. With startling superhero speed and the strength of a bulldozer, Wesley successfully rescues his friends, legitimately earning the title of super hero.

Hall gleefully guides young readers through Wesley’s attempts at superherodom, including his failures, which hide enticingly under page flaps. This story is a playful, colourful way of acknowledging an individual’s unique qualities while underpinning the themes of self-acceptance and friendship. Animals appearing in the story feature again at the back of the book with details about their own fascinating, real-life superpowers.  A delightful combination of narrative and non-fiction ideal for pre-schoolers and above.

NLA Publishing October 2017

Published by

Dimity Powell

Dimity Powell likes to fill every spare moment with words. She writes and reviews stories exclusively for kids and is the Managing Editor for Kids’ Book Review. Her word webs appear in anthologies, school magazines, junior novels, as creative digital content, and picture books - you'll find them all here at Boomerang Books. Dimity is a useless tweeter, sensational pasta maker and semi-professional chook wrangler. She believes picture books are food for the soul and should be consumed at least 10 times a week.

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