cover image MYRTLE


Tracey Campbell Pearson, . . FSG, $15 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-374-35157-1

What's a shy mouse to do when an aggressive bully storms into her life? Young Myrtle finds out in this sweet and empowering story of self-confidence. Everything's rosy for Myrtle and her baby brother until a mean mouse named Frances moves in next door. Frances so terrorizes the siblings with rude songs, nasty signs and scary pranks that Myrtle will no longer venture out of her room. Luckily, Myrtle's parents call on Aunt Tizzy in Africa, and she knows just what to do. Tizzy's on-the-double visit brings support, encouragement and constructive suggestions for Myrtle to manage the hurtful hurricane known as Frances. Pearson (Bob ) tackles the common and serious problem of bullying with a refreshingly light touch. She clearly conveys the painful effects of children's cruelty and offers creative, effective and non-confrontational strategies for addressing such behavior. (When Myrtle asks Aunt Tizzy what she did "when [lions] roared mean lion roars," the woman replies, "I simply roared back.... Or sometimes... I would just sing and dance until they were gone.") Young readers will surely take comfort in Aunt Tizzy's wise yet fun approach and perhaps build the confidence, like Myrtle, to try it themselves. All the while, Campbell's watercolor-and-pencil vignettes in cheery hues keep the proceedings upbeat and entertaining. Delightful color bursts include Myrtle's bedroom closet—a jumble of kicky clothes and tea party paraphernalia—and Aunt Tizzy's vibrant garb and souvenir masks from her African safari. Ages 3-6. (Mar.)