An Unexpected Thing

Frances Lincoln. Sept. 2023. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780711274884.
K-Gr 4–This thought-provoking and moving story will give hope to children with anxiety. Readers will relate to Fred, who is afraid of many things, especially the unexpected. While in the forest, he encounters a spot hanging in the sky and cowers in fear. A girl named Coco sees the same spot, but feels curiosity instead. While the soft watercolor illustrations are dark on pages featuring Fred, they are bright on Coco’s pages, accentuating the foil between the characters. Coco reaches out to Fred, and together they discover the opportunity the unknown can bring. The ending is ambiguous and feels a bit sudden; however, its very unexpectedness and complexity opens the door for rich conversations about the author’s intentions with older students. With its short sentences and pacing that motivates every turn of the page, the story is perfect for read-alouds.
VERDICT The book is certainly timely, as anxiety among youth is on the rise. An excellent addition to all library collections.

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