cover image I Want to Help!

I Want to Help!

Diane Adams, illus. by Nancy Hayashi. Peachtree, $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-56145-630-7

In this companion to I Can Do It Myself!, Emily Pearl is as high-achieving and high-energy as ever, a blessing and a curse to her kindergarten teacher, Ms. Glenn. While the text reports Emily’s strengths (“She can count to fourteen./ She can write her own name/ She can tell what is different and what is the same”), Hayashi’s mixed-media vignettes demonstrate that she can also be tone-deaf to the rights and feelings of her classmates (her idea of cleaning up books is snatching them out of a reader’s hands), and she plays fast and loose with classroom rules in the name of being helpful. It isn’t obvious what Adams and Hayashi want readers to do with this complex character exploration until the final pages, when Emily’s Pearl’s father is late for pickup, and it’s up to Ms. Glenn to allay her student’s anxieties. At that point it’s clear that even fearless, “full speed ahead” types like Emily can feel “just a little bit scared”—and that an empathetic grownup can make all the difference. Ages 2–6. Agent: Kelly Sonnack, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Christina A. Tugeau. (Sept.)