105 Ways to Give a Book

Thursday Three: Facing Fear

Three new picture books that address fear at some level. Three good ones too. Remember these when Cybils nominations open on October 1st.

The Black Rabbit
by Philippa Leathers

Candlewick Press 2013
The Black RabbitWhen Rabbit comes out of his burrow to a bright sunny day, he isn’t alone. Frightened of Black Rabbit, he runs away, finally losing his large, dark counterpart as he enters the deep, dark forest. Where he runs into wolf! But the attack of the wolf is thwarted, “Because there, standing in the sunlight behind Rabbit, was the Black Rabbit.” So little rabbit makes peace with his shadow. That Rabbit never really figures out that it’s his shadow makes his original fear more real. He’s not scared of his own shadow, so much as he’s scared of something big and unfamiliar. But when real danger is at hand, it puts other things in perspective. A great story about fear, about shadows (for your light and shadow science storytimes.) and just a nice read aloud. Soft watercolor and ink illustrations add to the charm of the story.

That is NOT a Good Idea!
By Mo Willems

Balzar & Bray, 2013
That is NOT a Good Idea!Presented like silent movie but with color, a fox spots a goose and asks her for a stroll, to his kitchen, and then to inspect his pot of soup while in alternating pages yellow chicks yell versions of “That is NOT a good idea!” that grow in intensity. But the goose had a plan all along and turns the tide on the fox in a kind of dark ending. Well, for the fox. The chicks have no problem, because they DID try to warn him. I’m not sure how the goose is the chicks mother. Adoption? Baby sitter? Or did Mo make an artistic choice in portraying baby geese like chicks? In any case, it's an interesting turn on fear where it turns out to be not what you thought. Honestly, not my favorite of his books, but a fun read aloud.

The Dark
by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen

Little, Brown and Company 2013
The DarkOpen on a picture of a boy looking up with trepidation out the window where the sun is setting and the simple words, “Laszlo was afraid of the dark.” A somewhat spooky set of pictures shows all the places the dark creeps into the house – down the stairs, in a closet, behind a shower curtain. The house tour ends in the basement where the dark spends most of its time "pressed up against some old, damp boxes and a chest of drawers nobody ever opened. At night, of course, the dark went out and spread itself against the windows and doors of Laszlo’s house.” The texture of the words give the dark a leading role as an entity, and then it really is a thing of sorts, calling to Laszlo, having him venture down to the basement in the darkest part of night and open the bottom drawer where… there are a collection of light bulbs for his nightlight. The dark also tells him in a long bit of text unlike anything in the picture book before and unlike anything in most picture books I've read, exactly why Laszlo doesn’t need to be afraid of the dark. Brilliant combination of author and illustrator make this an unusual and most perfect book.

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