I Am (Not) Scared
written by Anna Kang; illustrated by Christopher Weyant
2017 (Two Lions)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
You look scared. Well, maybe a little. Don't worry, there are much scarier things than this.
Click, click, click. As you hear that sound, you truly wonder if you have lost your mind. The roller coaster slowly climbs higher and higher and your fears soar with it. This is the predicament the two furry creatures in I Am (Not) Scared face. As a fan of roller coasters, I think the author and illustrator have really nailed this experience. Through the two creatures, you see the stages of riding. First, there's the part where you have to pump yourself up. You have to convince yourself that this isn't going to be that bad. The two friends do this by naming things that are much scarier. Like a tub of hairy spiders. Or an alien with pink eyes and furry teeth. Or snakes. Next is the point of no return. The car rolls up and you have to get on board. Unfortunately for the two buddies, it's a car with a snake although less scary since the snake is wearing glasses. So, the now threesome face the scariest part which is making the climb up. But you know, when you have a pal beside you, it's not as bad. What follows are three spreads of visual delight that remind me of classic Looney Tunes mayhem as the three hold on for dear life. As they depart from the car at the end, the two frazzled fuzzies declare the ride to be "the scariest." But if you've ever ridden a roller coaster, you know what is going to come next.
One of the things that we try to do as adults is put on a brave face and shield our kids from fear. Maybe we do too good of a job. It's okay to be scared. By sharing this with our students, we make a connection and strengthen our relationship with them. They need to know that having fears is natural, but the lesson here is not to let fear stop us from living our lives. Life is a roller coaster, but one that needs to be ridden and with all the friends we can find. With humor, sweetness, and delightful artwork, I Am (Not) Scared is a ride we all will want to take.