cover image Captain Starfish

Captain Starfish

Davina Bell, illus. by Allison Colpoys. Abrams, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4197-2837-2

Alfie is worried about his starfish costume and the Underwater Dress-Up Parade—he’s “got that feeling.” He’s had it before. Once, fearing he’d come in last, he backed out of a race. Another time, on the way to a friend’s birthday party and anxious about musical chairs, he asked his mother to turn around. Colpoys’s stylish, silkscreen-style illustrations use contrasting shades of sea green, deep blue, and bright pink to represent both the real world and Alfie’s rich interior life—he dreams of menacing sea creatures and talks to the cowboys on his wallpaper. When Alfie decides that he can’t handle the parade, his parents don’t push. A consolatory trip to the aquarium introduces Alfie to a clown fish, whose timidity reflects his own. “Sometimes clown fish need to hide away,” his mother observes. “People, too,” Alfie adds. Stories about childhood fears abound, but first-time author Bell writes about a more unusual situation—a child who shrinks from experiences that other children find pleasurable. With time, she implies, and with the unwavering support of parents, even these anxieties may wane. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)