NONFICTION

What Does It Mean to Be Safe?

Sourcebooks/Little Pickle. (What Does It Mean To Be…?). Oct. 2019. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781492680833.
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K-Gr 2–In this addition to the series, DiOrio explains safety in the context of a variety of scenarios regularly encountered by children. She includes both physical and esoteric definitions of safety, such as freedom from fears of injury, abuse, bullying, and discrimination. Much of the book unfolds in one sentence that begins “Being safe means...” Liu’s illustrations show children encountering unsafe situations and overcoming them, often with the help of a caring adult. In one example, a woman hugs a young girl while a nearby boy apprehensively anticipates a hug that he does not want. When the woman reaches to hug him, he steps back and offers her a high-five instead. She returns it with a smile. The accompanying text reads, “…understanding that yes means yes, and that silence is not yes.” Expressive faces and body postures reinforce concepts. Children and adults in “safe” situations smile broadly and exude positivity and hopefulness. Two specific scenes are noteworthy. In one, a boy builds a toy wall, blocking two girls of color. In another, a joyous congregation holds signs and flags that promote acceptance. To a child without preconceived notions, these are simple black-and-white concepts of exclusivity and inclusivity. However, some adults may find them heavy-handed.
VERDICT The message that all children deserve a safe, caring environment is one that transcends politics and deserves sharing.

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