Be Strong

Roaring Brook. Aug. 2021. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250221117.
K-Gr 4–Soft watercolor pastel illustrations feature a young Black girl in a culturally diverse neighborhood, who feels she is simply not strong. She can’t even scale the climbing wall in gym class, much less carry her overflowing backpack some days. She enlists advice from her family members on how to be strong. Her very wise parents and grandmother give her excellent advice. “Dad says being strong means showing up. Like when our neighborhood wakes up early to help people who have lost their homes.” Little by little, the young girl puts one foot in front of the other and takes their advice. “Mama says...being strong means moving forward. ‘Tiny steps are fine,’ she says, ‘As long as they take you in the right direction.’” Going forward, the little girl turns her weaknesses into strengths, like helping friends with a math packet, making a special table at lunch so no one eats alone, or writing a hundred thank-you notes. “Strong people care. And sometimes cry. They help people, and let other people help them.”
VERDICT A timely message for audiences of all ages, and a strong purchase for all libraries.

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