From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3—A shy girl confronts her fear of the many individuals who make her uncomfortable; for example: the school lunch woman who demands that each child take just one milk, the punked-out skateboarder with a loud boom box, and the school principal whose imposing figure looms large in the hallway. On one page, the child is depicted in a situation with the person who makes her apprehensive (such as the school nurse who is "a little bit scary"); but the flip of a page shows the youngster using her imagination, recasting the individual in a homey or less-threatening environment. She begins using the expression, "But I bet…" to imagine the nurse making music with his children, the principal dancing with her boyfriend, and the skateboarder who "kisses his cat on the head and scratches her neck until she purrs…." This could be a terrific book to begin a discussion about identity and forming opinions about others. It also offers students a way to feel empowered as they meet the demands of widening their world. Although most of the cartoonlike illustrations are lovely, one is an unfortunate disappointment: it depicts a black male with exaggerated facial features. Since proper racial representation is critical for children, the picture sadly mars this offering.—Teresa Pfeifer, Alfred Zanetti Montessori Magnet School, Springfield, MA
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Who hasn’t met up with someone who looks scary? A girl with tousled red hair encounters a series of such people: a spike-haired dude on a skateboard, the nasty bus driver, the school principal with witchy fingernails, the stern cafeteria lady, the girl in science class who eats her pencil, and the corner policeman who scolds people. But when the girl imagines their other, warmhearted side, they’re not quite as scary. But I bet the bus driver makes fancy breakfasts in the morning for her kids. But I bet, after school on Thursdays, the principal takes dancing lessons with her boyfriend. But I bet, before dinner, the punk teenage girl plays football with her little brothers and always lets them win. I know. Because she’s my sister. The comic illustrations are just realistic enough, adding touches of humor for each imagined nice side that follows the page turn. Kids will readily relate, and parents will appreciate this fresh take on quelling kids’ fears. Preschool-Grade 2. --Julie Cummins
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