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Emotional Roller Coaster

Four new books explore feelings of anxiety at the playground, in the classroom, and at parties – complete with coping strategies
David Jumps In

David Jumps In

Alan Woo and Katty Maurey, ill. Kids Can Press, Ages 4–7

Simon Steps Into the Ring

Marylène Monette and Marion Arbona, ill.; Sophie B. Watson, trans. Orca Book Publishers, Ages 4–8

Violet Shrink

Christine Baldacchino and Carmen Mok, ill. Groundwood Books, Ages 3–7

Superluminous

Ian De Haes Annick Press, Ages 3–5

“Just Be yourseLf” is the default advice for young people struggling in social situations. But how does that actually work? Kids in four new picture books use different strategies to feel more at ease in a crowd.

The first day at a new school is ripe for anxiety and David Jumps In, by Vancouver writer Alan Woo (Maggie’s Chopsticks) and Quebec illustrator Katty Maurey, tackles the toughest part – recess – in sparse, poetic text.

David wanders around the expansive playground before eventually asking some kids to play “elastic skip” (which an author’s note states has origins in ancient China and is known by other names around the world). Maurey’s digital illustrations subtly amplify David’s isolation, using vast swaths of white space to render him so insubstantial that he is hard to locate in some of the spreads. The majority of the story focuses on what other kids are playing before they agree to David’s invitation. It’s difficult to appreciate the hurdles he has to overcome without knowing more about his internal state. However, the lesson is simple, clear, and one that children who naturally stick to the sidelines need to hear: if you want to play with others, just ask.

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About Quill & Quire

Reviews of new poetry by A.F. Moritz, Canisia Lubrin, and Amber Dawn p.18 John Elizabeth Stintzi: Debut Author talks poetry, gender identity, and their love of the unconventional p.14 It's easy being gree: Indie publishers share earth day p.12