Reviewing “Scaredy Book” by Devon SILLETT & Cara KING

cover_Exisle_Scaredy BookThis story’s premise is that, to make a change and find new experiences one must have courage. Even though it may seem scary, it is worth it in the end. It is amusingly related through the adventures of ‘Book’ who reaches out at last to take its first step to meet a reader, Emma. Emma’s life is full of adventures she has found in other books. But up to now, Book has seen other books return damaged by readers, which is why he is scared. However, when he does take that first step, he gets to have his own wonderful adventures as Emma takes him to different places.

SILLETT could have done the ordinary – she could have written about a timid child (‘Timid Tabatha’?), but by using a normally inanimate object she has created a comforting distance between a nervous reader and his fears. It is a delightfully unusual approach to writing to help children.

Words such as potential, gumption, or pizzazz may not be in the independent vocabulary of many child readers younger than eleven or so, so an adult reading to a child will have opportunities to explain these, and extend the child’s vocabulary.

KING’s illustrations give delightful character to each book in Library, and to the imagery of Book’s and Emma’s adventures.

spread_Exisle_Scaredy Book

Exisle saysScaredy Book contains the perfect message for kids afraid of leaving their comfort zone (and hand-wringing helicopter parents too!).

It is written by Devon Sillett, a former radio producer who is now doing her PhD in Australian Children’s literature. Devon is passionate about the capacity for books to inspire the imagination, and about libraries as jumping off places for exciting voyages into the unknown.

These themes are explored in her latest picture book, Scaredy Book, in which Book lives at the library and desperately wants to go outside, but is intimidated by all the things that might happen ‘out there’. A page might get torn. Book’s cover might get dirty. Book might never be returned to the library! Meanwhile, Emma loves visiting the library and delights in the many adventures to be had in the stories she finds there. When Emma meets Book, they find they are just what each other needs. Together, Book and Emma move out of their comfort zone to try new things, meet new people, and enjoy a few quiet adventures — climbing trees, laughing in the rain, and even cheering along at a soccer match. Along the way, they discover that ‘out there’ needn’t be scary if you just take it one step at a time.

Children and parents alike will enjoy this story about being brave, taking risks, and living to tell the tale!

The Author: Devon Sillett is a former radio producer, turned writer and reviewer. She has loved books as long as she can remember — so much so that she even married her husband Matthew in a library! Currently, she teaches in the writing department at the University of Canberra, where she is also a PhD student, researching Australian children’s picture books. Her first picture book, The Leaky Story, was published by EK in 2017.

The Illustrator: Cara King is a designer and illustrator, who runs her own design business, Caratoons.

“Scaredy Book” (published 2018) by King & Sillett is available from E K Books as a hard-cover and teacher notes are available. Recommended age group: 4 to 8 years.

EKBooks NZ
E K Books is an imprint of Exisle Publishing, NZExisle Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-925335-68-2
RRP (NZ) $24-99