Barbara Bottner, Author, Alexander Stadler, Illustrator , illus. by Alexander Stadler. Running Press $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7624-1297-6

Curly-haired Charlene is shy—not that there's anything wrong with that. She has a rich inner life, a good sense of humor, friends (who appreciate her ability to keep a secret and do frog imitations), a snappy sense of style (her outfit sets off her titian mop) and—when she is all alone in her room with her drum set—a passion for making noise. The book's calm tone doesn't quite give Stadler a showcase for the comic talents that sparkled in his hilarious artwork for Beverly Billingsly Borrows a Book. But his illustrations are a good match for Bottner's (Bootsie Barker Bites) concise, understated text. The scraggly, thickly inked outlines of his gouache illustrations neatly balance vibrancy and poignancy. Charlene is not without misgivings about her behavior—she freezes up in class, and looks both wistful and anxious after she lets herself "laugh hard when something is really funny." "At the end of the day," writes Bottner on the final page, "Charlene promises herself not be shy. Tomorrow." But the underlying message is that the heroine is okay just the way she is—and considering how often reticence is portrayed as a handicap, that's quite a revelation. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 10/14/2002
Release date: 09/01/2002
Paperback - 48 pages - 978-0-7624-1841-1
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