This Book Is Spineless

illus. by Alice Brereton. 32p. Page Street. Feb. 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781624146589.
Gr 1–3—Leslie explores the theme of facing one's fears from the perspective of a cowardly book that is afraid of its own contents. The story spans several genres, from those where readers might reasonably encounter danger, such as ghost stories, mysteries, and space adventures, to more laughable concerns, such as encountering bad smells and dirt in a nature story. Each scene prompts kids to imagine themselves within the story using a different sense, such as hearing the clanking of chains and wailing of ghosts or feeling the speed of a rocket ship in flight. Ultimately the narrator realizes that by facing fears through stories, we become braver and better-equipped to face the next adventure. The digital artwork encompasses an array of styles that vary with the different genres, ranging from the genuinely frightening Rorschach-like monster to the humorous fairy-tale nature scene in which a bear running from a fearsome skunk. The illustrations begin quite dark and become more colorful as the narrator gathers courage, culminating with a spread mirroring the first monstrous illustration, but this time rendered in bright colors and featuring characters and themes seen throughout the book.
VERDICT An engaging adventure for early elementary readers.

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