I Used to Be Afraid

illus. by Laura Vaccaro Seeger. 40p. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter Bks. Sept. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781596436312.
PreS-Gr 1—A short but cleverly designed tale about a little girl who overcomes her fears by looking at scary things from another perspective. Illustrated with Seeger's signature acrylic paint collages with die-cuts, each spread alternates between the phrase "I used to be afraid of [the scary thing in question]" and the cutout of the scary object, and the next spread that shows it transformed into something less threatening with the words "but not anymore." Spiders are rendered harmless by the beauty of their intricate webs and spooky shadows by a game of shadow puppets, while loneliness is defeated by reading, and though the little girl is still intimidated by her older brother, in the end they are pictured playing together amicably. Spare but formulaic text and large font make it suitable for both the youngest readers and those learning how to read independently.
VERDICT A wonderful story to engender a discussion about being afraid and possibly even inspire its young audience to conquer their own fears.—Yelena Alekseyeva-Popova, formerly at Chappaqua Library, NY
, Sep 01, 2015

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