cover image Raj’s Rule (for the Bathroom at School)

Raj’s Rule (for the Bathroom at School)

Lana Button, illus. by Hatem Aly. Owlkids, $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-77147-340-8

Early childhood educator Button depicts an anxiety that many school-age children share: using a bathroom that’s not their own. Told in conversational rhymes presented in speech bubbles, the narrative follows Raj, a brown-skinned child who restricts his movements, dodging all beverage offerings and even laughter to avoid using the facility’s washroom. But when he can’t elude “sneaky sneezes” like he advises, Raj is forced to use the school restroom for the first time. After his usual concern is flushed away, Raj gains access to previously disregarded opportunities (“I kinda can cartwheel!/ My friends help me try!”). Aly’s expressive, cartoon-style digital illustrations elevate the tale, making it accessible to anxious and non-anxious readers alike. Button subtly and effectively conveys how actions related to anxiety might disrupt a child’s academic and social performance, but this readaloud will resonate with any reader who has faced a fear. Ages 3–7[em]. (Aug.) [/em]