Too Shy to Say Hi

Magination. Mar. 2021. 32p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781433831584.
PreS-Gr 1–This didactic attempt at bibliotherapy collapses under the weight of its awkward rhyming text and unclear goal. Shelli walks her dog daily, but unlike him, is too shy to interact with people. She decides to change and reaches out to a classmate. After being welcomed to sit, she suggests playing at recess, which works out well. Happy, and proud of her success, she acknowledges that “I know I have a ways to go/ but I’m peeking out of my shell.” The forced rhyming text is a poor choice here.The scansion wavers throughout, weakening the story. Some vocabulary is a poor fit with Shelli’s first-person narration. Nakata’s illustrations, appearing to be watercolor, are appealing, with round-faced, simple characters, lots of movement, and effective use of color to depict mood. The initially blue backgrounds change to a warm yellow as Shelli reaches out. Shelli, who is white, has reddish, flyaway hair in pigtails and an expressive face which shows a variety of emotions. Her new friend has brown skin and curly brown pigtails. There is a mix of single and double-page full-bleed spreads and spot art, effectively creating motion and feeling. The book includes a two-page note for parents about shyness and social anxiety.
VERDICT Despite its good intentions, this slightly muddled attempt to introduce shyness and social anxiety to preschoolers fails to merge its light rhyming text with the topic.

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