When You Are Brave

illus. by Eliza Wheeler. 40p. Little, Brown. Mar. 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780316392525.
PreS-Gr 2—This gently purposeful book is brought to life with luminous mixed-media illustrations that uplift and extend the writing. The text is less a story than a motivational piece about the courage to overcome obstacles. It talks about how "you" might feel, and ways to conquer fear and find "your" bravery. The illustrations, a mix of India ink, watercolors, colored pastel pencils, and acrylic paint, begin the story on the title page, as a family packs up their car to move. The story takes place over the course of the overnight drive to the new home. Wheeler captures the dichotomy of fear and hope through the contrast of dark, shadowy sections and glowing greenish-yellow light. The full-bleed images alternate between close-ups of the unnamed female protagonist as she sits in the car, and single pages and spreads from outside the car, showing the scenery as the family drives. The text has a motivational feel, suggesting readers mentally picture courage as a light, and the illustrations depict it as a flame that becomes imagined butterfly wings that appear in firefly-like lights. As morning arrives, the sun rises and the protagonist accepts her challenges and discovers her bravery.
VERDICT The quiet text will likely find an audience in parents and teachers looking to introduce bravery, but the real impact here lies in the gorgeously detailed, textured, and glowing illustrations, which make it rise above average. Most libraries will appreciate this lovely addition.

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