Monday, September 20, 2021

Picture Book Review: Three Ways to Be Brave by Karla Clark, illustrated by Jeff Ostberg (2021)

Quick Booktalk

The fears surrounding three common childhood experiences - thunderstorms, the first day of school, and a check-up at the doctor's office - are addressed in rhyming text and accompanying soothing illustrations.

About the Illustrations

Color is the main focus of the pictures. The colors used in each illustration directly reflect the mood of whatever is happening on the page. The thunderstorm scenes use lots of deep purples and blues, whereas the little girl eating breakfast before school is bathed in yellow sunlight, and the boy throwing a fit because he doesn't want a shot is set against a red and orange background. The illustrations also have interesting points of view that make them feel as though we're seeing them from a child's eye level. 

Story Time Possibilities

The rhyming text in this book contains a lot of rhyme for rhyme's sake. Though there is always some level of demand for bibliotherapy-type books to help kids prepare for and process scary and new situations, the stilted and bland text makes it unlikely that the book would get additional attention outside of that specific type of need. My daughter who has a check-up coming up soon was definitely interested in the check-up chapter, and it did spark a lot of discussion for her, but it was the content and the pictures that won her over, not the text. Reading it aloud was pretty painful for me too. 

Readers Advisory

The old Mr. Rogers books about various childhood milestones are still the standard for this genre, and though this book is new and shiny looking, it just does not compare to the work of Fred Rogers. It's fine for supporting kids going through new experiences, but the text is just very weak, even if the illustrations are appealing. 


I received a finished copy of Three Ways to Be Brave from Penguin Young Readers in exchange for an honest review. 

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