Friday, May 1, 2009

the little bit SCARY people - book review

The Little Bit Scary People
Author Emily Jenkins
Illustrator Alexandra Boiger
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH (September 23, 2008)
ISBN-10: 1423100751
ISBN-13: 978-1423100751

Most children are afraid of something such as the dark or monsters under the bed. But “The little bit Scary People” helps to sooth young children’s fears that some people may not be so scary even if you are only three or four feet tall. Jenkins is able to transfer scary people into warm and loving characters.

I love the way Emily Jenkins uses a child’s imagination to show how perception of other people is not always what it seems to be. Jenkins uses words that speak directly to the children. As I read this story to my seven year old granddaughter she would say “That’s not nice” when I read about the nasty bus driver or the mean cafeteria lady and the school principal who shows a mean face in the hall way.

When the page is turned Jenkins words “But I bet,” prefaces each warmhearted statement that shows a good side of each character. For example: “The bus driver won't let me on if I don't have the right change. She honks her horn loudly, when she doesn't even need to. She’s a little bit SCARY.” (turn the page) “But I bet, she makes fancy breakfasts in the morning for her kids: pancakes, waffles, or English muffins with eggs and chopped tomato."

Toward the end the story takes a turn from imagination to reality through the voice of the main character. Instead of saying “but I bet,” she says “But I know,” I think this story helps children look at the differences in people and learn how to accept them for who they are. Also to realize everyone’s family is full of unusual and loving people too.

The artwork by Alexandra Boiger is gorgeous and vivid. Her comic illustrations of the “scary” pages are just realistic enough and she adds a touch of warmth and humor with each page turn. Kids will relate and the fresh take on subduing children’s fears will be appreciated by parents and teachers.

About the author: Emily Jenkins was born in New York City, grew up in Cambridge, MA and Seattle, WA, studied English at Vassar, and then came back to New York to get her doctorate in 19 th-century English literature at Columbia.

Write it down, Carma