I’m Brave! I’m Strong! I’m Five!

Margaret Ferguson Bks/Holiday House/. Oct. 2019. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780823443628.
PreS-K–A young girl weathers the terrors of going to sleep all by herself. Sasha’s parents have read her a story, kissed her cheeks, and tiptoed out of her room, but she still isn’t tired enough to sleep. It’s loud outside, and the moon is too bright, and strange, scary noises fill the room. The temptation to call on her parents, who she knows are waiting right outside her door, is hard to resist. As she encounters each problem, Sasha resolutely reminds herself that she can do this herself, for she is brave, she is strong, and she is five! So she pulls the curtains tightly shut against the moonlight, shines a flashlight to startle her cat and eventually—finally—is able to rest peacefully for the night. Kulikov’s playful mixed media illustrations create hints of malice and magic in the night that are revealed through the child’s investigations. While there are other stories that deal with bedtime and the terrifying transformation of innocuous shapes in the night, this story stands out for its ability to break down bravery into small, manageable steps.
VERDICT The protagonists’ fears and worries are completely relatable and readers will joyfully join in the refrain of, “I’m brave! I’m strong! I’m five!” A first purchase for libraries serving young children.

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