Brave Enough

Page Street. Feb. 2022. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781645673491.
Gr 2-4–Big Sister narrates in the first person that Little Brother is scared of monsters. He sees them everywhere. To assuage his fear, he reads about them constantly. Big Sister is determined to prove that monsters do not exist. To do so, she leads her brother through creepy graveyards, past haunted houses, and through dark woods. Ironically, the two fall down a hole and encounter a real monster. Lucky for them, the monster is friendly. Plus, Little Brother’s knowledge of monster behavior helps them bond with the fluffy creature and make a new friend. Justus’s artwork is colorful and vivacious. Digital illustrations full of dynamic cartoon energy resemble ink and colored pencil drawings. The characters are well-designed with simple, expressive faces. Big Sister’s long limbs and sunny yellow boots underscore her confident strut. Little Brother has sticks for legs and the top of his head barely reaches her waist. Both characters have brown skin and dark hair. The monster is adorable: fluffy, pink, one tiny horn. The energetic text is packed with fun vocabulary words that can be deciphered through context clues. While the narrative voice comes from Big Sister, Little Brother contributes his own interjections in the form of bold text inside yellow word bubbles. A lesson could be made about listening, empathy, or even bravery, but this book is not interested in those topics. Even if fear-based obsession with a topic can have a positive outcome, Big Sister spends most of the book refusing to acknowledge a belief of her brother’s that turns out to be true, and she looks like a bit of a dolt and a bully.
VERDICT The effervescent artwork and huge vocabulary opportunities make this tale a flawed but still attractive addition to large collections.

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