cover image Shy Charles

Shy Charles

Rosemary Wells. Dial Books, $13.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-0563-0

``Charles is as happy as he could be,'' but he is so shy he won't thank Mrs. Belinski for a treat, and he refuses to play with Wanda Sue or answer the phone. ``This can't go on,'' says Charles' father, but all attempts to nudge mousy Charles into action backfire. When Charles is enrolled in ballet class, he hides near a potted plant and pretends to be asleep. And when his father buys him a football helmet with silver wings, Charles ends up having to be carried off the field in disgrace. Then Mrs. Block, his babysitter, falls down the stairs and shy Charles efficiently handles the emergency all by himself. Wells' rhyming text is spare and clever and she shows an acute understanding of the painfully shy child. Whether Charles is anxiously peering out from underneath his helmet or eyeing the fearsome telephone, readers will find this quiet hero and his winsome smile beguilingproof that shyness does not preclude competence. Ages 4-8. (September)