FICTION

Riley Can’t Stop ­Crying

Orca. Mar. 2021. 80p. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781459826380.
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K-Gr 2–In a compassionate look at dysmorphia, this insightfully emotional book guides children to unpack the turmoil of being unhappy with one’s self and how family support can encourage self-acceptance and self-love. A young girl, Regina, and her single father face the daily dilemma of calming her brother, four-year-old Riley, who cries incessantly but cannot explain why. Readers follow Regina’s candid, beautifully described thought process as she takes action to investigate and resolve what is upsetting her brother and subsequently facing the unspoken unhappiness in her small family. After many tries, the most revealing connection is made when Regina and her father ask, without judgment, what Riley’s choices of toys, clothing, colors, and hair would best suit his own tastes. Self-reflection, self-love, and empathy are shining elements in this story as Regina connects with Riley after thinking about her own past experiences and her father’s advice to take care of herself and love what makes her unique. The bright watercolor and gouache illustrations reflect the transparency of the book’s open message, as simple, exaggerated curving lines of the figures fluidly express how the characters’ stillness, movement, happiness, or depression affect their overall composure and presence.
VERDICT A poignant, purposeful depiction of a family learning to recognize, confront, and heal internal struggles with self-love and self-worth. Children in need of encouragement will find comforting revelations about the value of individuality.

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