Atlantic Books Today No. 92 Fall 2020

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YOUNG READERS Atlantic Books Today

is beautiful and wisely points out that “nothing would be beautiful if we all looked the same.” Buoyed by this new perspective, the Little Red Shed heads for home, where her burgeoning confidence in herself inspires her friends to be open to change themselves. This brightly hued and beautifully illustrated celebration of individuality offers a heartfelt look at diversity for young audiences. The bold and exuberant illustrations adroitly depict the Little Red Shed’s despondency and how deeply she is affected by the rejection of her peers. Even though she believes that she is the same inside, the other sheds refuse to see beyond her external appearance, and she feels forced to accept their take on things as the truth. When she makes a new friend, who sees her as beautiful, that is just what she needs to accept herself regardless of what the others think. This cheery, simple story imparts many important and powerful messages about self-acceptance, the importance of kindness and recognizing beauty in others and how believing in yourself can inspire others. Simply told in sprightly rhyming text with vibrant, folk-art style illustrations, it is a timely and very relevant reminder of the need to embrace differences. LIGHT IN THE FOREST

Holly Carr Rubicon Publishing (Ages 4-12)

Nova Scotian artist Holly Carr’s stunning new picture book begins with jet black pages and glowing amber eyes peering ominously off the page. Then, one by one, Carr introduces the animals of the forest. At first, each creature is howling or lurking or screeching, and the accompanying illustration is dark and eerie and sombre, showing a close-up of that particular beast looking sinister and fearsome. Yet, the narrator still tells readers in bold white letters: “Do not be afraid.”

Sure enough, each turn of the page reveals the same menacing-looking animal from the previous page but now depicted in a glorious, light-infused woodland setting looking serene and amiable, cradling their young or sleeping peacefully amidst the foliage. Alongside each of these lush and luminous illustrations, the words “I am not afraid” boldly, joyfully leap off the page, inviting young readers to chant this empowering refrain themselves. Created in conjunction with a multimedia stage production and an interactive installation of her world-renowned silk paintings, this book magnificently captures both Carr’s visually arresting artwork and her simple, powerful message. Her distinctive style brings the forest setting vividly to life with illustrations that are both intricately elegant and utterly fanciful. With thin black outlines, the loose-lined images are bold, strikingly detailed and lavishly textured. The dark scenes feature expressive faces that generally dominate the page. The alternating images are bursting with vibrant, sun-dappled and colour-soaked life. The repeated refrain of “Do not be afraid/I am not afraid” provides a rhythmic, soothing quality as well as reinforcing the idea that when we are overcome by fear, we need to look again, to see things differently, to see beyond the darkness. Endorsed by the Canadian Mental Health Association, Nova Scotia Division, this is a timely and vital message, a beautiful reminder to readers of all ages that even in times of darkness, there is light and hope, for “you are not alone.” BAREFOOT HELEN AND THE GIANTS

Andy Jones, illustrated by Katie Brosnan Running the Goat Books & Broadsides (Ages 7-12)

An old couple finds a wild girl in the woods one day. She follows them home and becomes the child they had always longed for. They call her Helen, and while Helen eventually learns to talk and eat with utensils and even to sleep inside, she cannot be persuaded to wear shoes. When the man and woman decide to move to the city, Helen knows it is time for her to return to the wilderness. That is when her adventures truly begin as she encounters three murderous giants. Using her slingshot, her cunning and her courage, Helen takes on the frightful giant Bulleybummus and then returns to her beloved home in the woods. But will the story of her brave deeds get her into more trouble? Or will it mark the beginning of the next exciting chapter in Helen’s eventful life? NUMBER 92 | FALL 2020

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