I Can Help

Reem Faruqi, illus. by Mikela Prevost. Eerdmans, $17.99 (44p) ISBN 978-0-8028-5504-6
This painfully honest look at the way unkindness can poison a classroom atmosphere is narrated by Zahra, a brown-skinned child who takes pride in helping white student Kyle, who “isn’t great at handwriting or cutting or gluing either.” Classmates Tess and Ashley gossip: “Kyle is such a baby” and ask Zahra, “Why do you help him?” That’s all it takes. Zahra stops helping Kyle (“You’re mean now,” Kyle says), and every classroom interaction subsequently becomes freighted with her consciousness of the girls’ scorn. Faruqi gives careful attention to all of the emotions Zahra feels, the better for readers to identify them in their own experience. Prevost contributes smudgy, muted tone images of sweet-faced, dot-eyed children of varying skin tones whose expressions are easy to read. Readers may recognize times when they felt as Zahra does—and vow to do better. Ages 4–8. (July)
Reviewed on : 06/24/2021
Release date: 08/01/2021
Genre: Children's
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