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When You Are Brave Hardcover – Picture Book, March 5, 2019
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Wisconsin's 2020 Picture This List
"Dazzling... For lovers of Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael López's The Day You Begin (2018), a sweet lesson on how to glow from the inside out."
"Helps show children they can learn to be in charge of their feelings and that a positive attitude will go far in allaying fear of the unknown."―Booklist
"This is a wonderfully encouraging message that is well expressed and supported by illustrations that start out dark and scary and end light and colorful."―School Library Connection
Praise for Wherever You Go:
* "This lovely offering appeal[s] both as an inspirational gift book and as a bedtime tale."―Publishers Weekly, starred review
"There is so much to see and discover that the reader will spend extra time exploring each detailed page...a sweet, beautifully illustrated book about exploring one's world but knowing you can always go home."―School Library Connection
"All is warmth and pleasure in this adventure, and the best is, of course, the ability to go home."―Booklist
"A motivational piece about the courage to overcome obstacles...gorgeously detailed."
―School Library Journal
About the Author
Eliza Wheeler is the bestselling author and illustrator of Miss Maple's Seeds and was a 2017 Sendak Fellowship recipient. She has illustrated the Newbery Honor Book Doll Bones and Wherever You Go (written by Pat Zietlow Miller), among others. She lives in Minnesota.
- Item Weight : 1.01 pounds
- Grade Level : Preschool - 3
- Hardcover : 40 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0316392529
- ISBN-13 : 978-0316392525
- Product Dimensions : 10.45 x 0.65 x 10.6 inches
- Reading level : 4 - 8 years
- Publisher : Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Illustrated Edition (March 5, 2019)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #25,290 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Many times, as encouraged by reader-leaders like Michigan's Travis Jonker (who gives us The Undies), we are quick to take the dust jacket off of a new picture book in order to see if the case is presented differently or with a unique design or touch. I, not a reader-leader, am going to try to convince you to wait until the end of Pat Zietlow Miller's WHEN YOU ARE BRAVE (if you can). The reveal of the case after the reading the story is a breath-taking moment that you will want to have for yourself and for the readers with whom you share this special 2019 title.
The author and illustrator, Aliza Wheeler, are the creative team behind WHEREVER YOU GO, which has been my go-to gift book for my senior teacher aides who come back to the room to assist our incoming AP English Language and Composition students. I often write my letter inside of the book on the end papers (which is really ironic, as for these students, what we might call the "end papers" are the beginning of a new story's opening titles).
The truth of any text is found when holding it up to the light (however we might define this light). Little, Brown's design of the book presents something special in holding the book up to the light. A spread pair of ethereal wings extend from our main character's back as she stands akimbo in the middle of the road of some neighborhood marked by four houses. Her attire is that of the everyday neighbor child in a zippered sweater and striped shorts with loosely-tied shoes (the daily uniform of the young with a world ahead of them waiting to be discovered and claimed). All of this first image is framed in twilight with sparkling stars scattered about the cover. As a One Book Four Hands choice, this feature will delight young readers with whom the book might be shared by an adult looking for a book that centers new experiences as opportunities to express resolve and to experience bravery.
The end papers of this new title from Pat and Eliza call to mind "Starry Starry Night" with the swash of gentle colors suggesting twilight and the end of the day that will come over the course of the story to come. Sharing the book with younger readers, older reading partners might note that WHEN YOU ARE BRAVE actually begins with the title page spread with a depiction of a family loading belongings into, and onto, what looks like a VW Bug. On verso, a motherly-figure if offering a hand motion to "come" to a character whose face is half-hidden by an upper room window in the recto image. There are opportunities for discussion regarding what is not being said but being shown in this first spread as we see that the mother might be expecting a new child and the presence of more people who could fit inside of a small car. Might these be other family members? Friends of the family? Neighbors seeing our family off? All of this scene is presented in the colors spilling from cover art and end papers suggesting this story begins in the early, early morning of the story to come. Picture books provide opportunity to talk into the story before it unfolds and Pat and Eliza come together in this opening to provide a chance to really pull from the potential of the picture book as a shared discovery and chance to talk and to learn between mentor and learning reader.
"Some days, when everything around you seems scary. . .you have to be brave."
These are the first words we see in the book. Separated by the ellipsis, the recto reveals our main character from the cover standing and looking at an empty bookcase holding a book under her arm. The verso presents "you have to be brave" on a mostly-darkened page with a partially open door. Again, as reviewer, I suggest that the mentor reader spend some time on this page. Teachers using the book as an introduction to the Hero's Journey might be able to identify this spread as "Crossing the Threshold" and what this means for our main character. What is the book she is holding? Why did this one not get packed away with the others that might have been upon the shelf?
The next spread depicts the main character stepping out from house with the box from the previous spread. It is now evident to the reader that there is a clear separation from the family who is moving from the other characters who have gotten up early to see them off. Two similes are presented on the facing pages which start to show us Pat Zietlow Miller's gift for using simple wors to present beauty in comparison of our potential bravery to that which we might see around us if we were to look. A suggestion that we are called to be brave as others are called is a strong message early on in WHEN YOU ARE BRAVE.
The next spread continues in simile but creates a real turn from the expectation of momentous bravery to a suggestion of the more ubiquitous variety: "Because some days are full of things you rather not do." Now, WHEN YOU ARE BRAVE begins to become suitable for moments big and small, extraordinary and quotidian. In this spread, the illustrator shows us the book our character was cradling is a scrapbook photo album. Stuffed animals in the box accompanying the character in the back seat of the car now seem to be glancing at the book with our character. The absence of some facial detail suggests the companions in the seat are looking along with mix of interest, nostalgia, and concern.
The reader gets a character's eye view of the book in the next spread and the suggestion of invitations and opportunities to come are anchored by images suggesting the character has done some of these things before. Readers might be invited to draw and create similar past experiences to a new one with the book as an anchor and guide from past to present.
"At times like these, the world can seem. . .Too big. Too loud. Too hard. Too Much." The use of ellipsis again provide an opportunity to put words in that space for feelings that are ready to present and to be shared or discussed. Here, older and younger reader might need not have had a moving experience but can draw some similarity of new experiences and what the bring to the surface. "When you feel. . .Too Small. Too quiet. Too tired. Not enough." For older readers with whom teachers might be sharing WHEN YOU ARE BRAVE as an introduction to The Hero's Journey, leader-readers might talk about how the difference between the stems, "Never _______ enough" can often generate more responses than when the stem reads, "__________ enough" (an invitation for a potentially-powerful invitation to write.
Wheeler depicts the family car as very small within these images of urban setting cast in darkness with two small headlights illuminating a path through "The Belly of the Whale."
A next spread reveals a soft rain beginning along the journey. In recto, the family covers the belongings with a tarp. Inside the car under the text, "It might be hidden away (describing courage)" as the reader sees the main character, wide-eyed, seeming to dig deep for what has been hidden (or "packed away"). Hands are wrapped about a blanket the hero of our book has fetched from her box and it appears that she is bracing herself for this moment. In Room 407, we talk about where gifts, talents, and treasures lie. Deep. Inside. They always have. They still do.
This is where I have to pull back a little bit on reveals as the book begins to reveal its (and our) inner gift of magic and transformation. I could reference E. T.: The Extra Terrestrial here, but I would have said too much. But. . .I might suggest that leader-readers pull out or cue Neil Diamond's "Heartlight" which was scrapped for that film but provides an opportunity for a wonderful musical "ladder" (Teri Lesesne) for WHEN YOU ARE BRAVE. If you don't, I will have already with my readers.
Our family car is now covered and coated with the "star stuff" (PETER AND THE STAR CATCHERS) becomes a potential "ladder" for WHEN YOU ARE BRAVE. Are you beginning to see how these "ladders" work?
"Think about what you're good at."
"Something you love."
"Or someone who loves you. . ."
WHEN YOU ARE BRAVE is not only an invitation to consider moments when we must call upon our inner reserves to be courageous, but an opportunity to take inventory of our stores sustaining us in those moments when we are pre-brave. . .or simply being.
As the sun rises fully in the book, the character returns to the scrapbook and revisits more moments from her past experiences. The creative team of the book reminds us in words and image that a return to our story is a return to the start. . .and guides us to new beginnings of stories to be written, and shared, and revisited.
No spoilers, but finishing pages of WHEN YOU ARE BRAVE position or character now as one that has visited fear, found a center, and now presents before a new opportunity. Similes from the beginning come back at the end and present, now, our character as "brave."
And suggests, "As brave as. . .you."
For everything that is not said in the ellipses there is powerful symbolism. I am not sure if this were Pat Zietlow Miller's WHEN YOU ARE BRAVE, but I see something of story in those three dots.
As we enter into new callings and encounters, we enter into the ellipsis of our past experience, our current position and understanding, and our want (and need) for shared bravery: mine, yours, and theirs.
This year, our Room 407 students will share WHEN YOU ARE BRAVE as a reflection upon our reading of Chris Crutcher's "A Brief Moment in the Life of Angus Bethune" and our consideration of the feature-length film, ANGUS. We will explore bravery and what it means for us. As teacher. As students. As room. As community members. And citizens.
WHEN YOU ARE BRAVE is a continuation of Pat Zietlow Miller's work in affirming young (and old) readers by meeting them where they often find themselves and helping them to navigate a path ahead in accessible language that is universal. Even when we are in ellipsis, we are still experiencing (and beginning to narrate) our stories.
And, now, having experienced WHEN YOU ARE BRAVE, remove carefully the dust jacket to consider the case. And see that the creative team has given us a "mirror" of what it means to be a human: a "dust jacket" with a "case" inside.
When You Are Brave opens with an image of a family packing up their car for a move, and acute observers will notice two eyes peering out from inside the house. A turn of the page shows us that those eyes belong to the main character, whose family is moving, “everything around [her] seems scary,” and she has to be brave. Though the words tell us her head knows that, her body language lets us know her heart feels differently. Miller’s story pulls us in, and our hearts start to flutter along with the girl’s. After all, we all know what it's like to feel "too small, too quiet, too tired, not enough."
But Miller reminds us that, inside, we are indeed enough. We do indeed have enough. Because inside of all of us, we have the courage we need. We know it's there because we've used it before, and when we need it again, it will be there still. Even more importantly, remembering what we're good at, the things we love, and the people who love us makes our courage as big as we need it to be. And using our courage is like exercising our muscles -- every time we use it, it gets stronger and easier to use!
Wheeler's illustrations bring you along the emotional ride of the story just as much as Miller's words. In the beginning, the spreads are filled with blues, echoing not only the time of day but also the moods of the main character. When she remembers the courage inside her, however, light starts to fill the pages, illuminating the story from the inside out and letting us know that the girl is indeed ready for her new adventure. Be sure to check out the hidden artwork under the cover and the gorgeous endpages!