Don’t Worry, Little Crab by Chris Haughton (9781536211191)
Little Crab lives with Very Big Crab in a small tide pool, but now they are off to the ocean! At first Little Crab is very excited. They journey over rocks, across pools, and through seaweed to get there, each with its own special sound. When they reach the edge of the ocean though, Little Crab is overwhelmed and not sure they should continue. There are big waves that hit them over and over again. Little Crab decides it’s time to head home instead, but Very Big Crab continues to encourage Little Crab to try. Step by step, Little Crab enters the ocean until he’s in it! And what an amazing place it is!
Haughton beautifully shows the fear of the new and the way that experiences can feel very overwhelming for children. The use of wave after wave is what doing something new can feel like. The book also clearly demonstrates the importance of continuing forward and trying something new. You may just love it, like Little Crab does. Gentle and powerful, this picture book shows rather than tells, allowing children to find their own way through fear with the help of a couple new friends.
The illustrations are bold and beautiful. They have dark cliffs near the ocean, battered by turquoise water with bright white foam. The greens of the seaweed, purples of the crabs, pop on the page. Then once the ocean is entered, it’s like discovering colors all over again. Remarkable!
Wave away your worries with this wonderful read. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy provided by Candlewick.
The Dark Matter of Mona Starr by Laura Lee Gulledge (9781419734236)
Mona’s best and really only friend is moving to Hawaii and leaving her to face school and life on her own. It’s made even harder by Mona’s Matter. Her Matter is her dark thoughts that tell her she isn’t good enough and her depression that can take control. Mona steadily learns to make new friends, connecting with others in orchestra. She also learns ways to deal with her depression, the Matter, that keeps it under better control. She meditates, uses art to express herself, and leans on those who love her. In a culminating episode, when her depression seems to be causing physical pain, no one can figure out what is wrong. Mona insists that more tests are run and a problem that requires surgery is found. The battle against her Matter may not be fully won, but one victory at a time makes a difference.
Gulledge has written a fictional but very autobiographical graphic novel. Her representation of depression as “Matter” is really well done. It will serve as both a reflection of experience to those who have depression and a way of learning about it to those who don’t. The physicality of depression is captured here, the isolation that is self built, the nastiness of self talk, and the bravery it takes to break free of the cycle.
The art is gorgeous, beautifully showing the darkness of the Matter that lurks in corners only to suddenly surge and take over. That same darkness though is also a canvas for stars, a way of seeing the rays of yellow that promise hope and light through all of the bleak times. Gulledge uses the yellow sparingly, allowing it to pierce and glow at specific times.
A great graphic novel that tackles depression, courage and recovery. Appropriate for ages 12-15.
Reviewed from copy provided by Amulet.