3 New Picture Books Brimming with Self Esteem

I Can Be Anything! Don_t Tell Me I Can_t by Diane Dillon

I Can Be Anything! Don’t Tell Me I Can’t by Diane Dillon (9781338166903)

Zoe says that she can be anything she wants to be, like a bird flying up high. But she also has a little voice that asks what happens if she falls. Time and again, Zoe states her dream and why it will work but the little voice is still there asking nagging questions and inserting doubt. Zoe dreams of being a scientist or a veterinarian or a musician or President. Still, that voice comments on each of those dreams. Each time though, Zoe responds or ignores the voice until it can’t answer anymore. This picture book shows how to push through personal doubts and follow your dreams, whatever they may be.

This is Dillon’s first solo picture book since the death of her husband. The insidious little voice that we all have is nicely drawn here, so that everyone can relate to the messages it gives. Zoe’s inherent enthusiasm and pride in herself are not cut down even though she has doubts. The focus on learning, science, arts and reading is strong in this book. Dillon’s illustrations are beautifully done, featuring Zoe and her dreams becoming reality on each page. A winning look at resilience and empowerment, this picture book is inspiring. Appropriate for ages 4-6. (Reviewed from copy provided by Blue Sky Press.)

Natsumi by Susan Lendroth

Natsumi! by Susan Lendroth, illustrated by Priscilla Burris (9780399170904)

Natsumi is a little girl with lots of exuberance in everything she does. She moves fast, plays hard and makes a lot of noise. When her family starts to prepare for a festival featuring traditional Japanese arts, Natsumi struggles to figure out where she fits in. She moves too fast for flower arranging. She stirs the tea too hard in the tea ceremony. She is too loud for the dance routine. Her grandfather though has an idea of where she might fit right in, but it’s a secret until the festival.

This fast-paced picture book suits its subject just right. Filled with noise and action, the story shows a dynamic little girl who just can’t slow down, be quiet or be gentle. The repetition of those elements strengthens the structure of the book. The solution the grandfather comes up with is just right and offers a real way that Natsumi can be herself and still participate. The illustrations are just as bright and vivid as Natsumi herself, filled with color, movement and smiles. A book that celebrates individuality. Appropriate for ages 3-5. (Reviewed from copy provided by Penguin Random House.)

Petra by Marianna Coppo

Petra by Marianna Coppo (9780735262676)

Petra is an enormous boulder, one that is unmovable, visited by others, a magnificent mountain that has been there since ancient times. Or is she? When a dog comes along, the perspective changes and suddenly Petra is much more of a pebble size. Petra thinks that maybe she isn’t even a rock at all, perhaps she is an egg instead! What could she hatch into? When she is tossed into a pool of water, Petra again dreams of how very large she is as an island. But once again is picked up and taken away, this time by a girl who paints Petra. Who knows what she may become tomorrow!

Coppo’s book is a skilled look at perspective in two ways. First in the changing perspective as Petra seems large and then small, larger and then smaller again. Second in Petra’s own shifting perspective about who and what she is and could be. It’s an adroit combination of themes that support one another very successfully and is vastly appealing. The art style adds to that appeal with Petra’s expressions changing as her perspective shifts. The art is simple, focusing primarily on Petra herself in all of her imaginative glory. Rock on! Appropriate for ages 3-5. (Reviewed from library copy.)

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