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Reviewed by:
Calabrese, Keith Lena’s Shoes Are Nervous: A First-Day-of-School Dilemma; illus. by Juana Medina. Atheneum, 2018 [34p]
Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-5344-0894-4 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-5344-0895-1 $10.99
Reviewed from galleys R 4–6 yrs

“Today, Lena starts kindergarten. Lena is very excited”; unfortunately, Lena’s favorite shoes are too nervous to go. The shoes need encouragement from another part of the outfit, and the green headband might do the trick (“All her clothes like her headband”); between the headband’s kind reassurances and Lena’s threat to wear her slippers, the shoes come around and take Lena to school (“Lena is very proud of them”). The elliptical approach to anxiety is funny and effective, with the book treating Lena’s projection cheerfully but respectfully as the process allows her to explore her own worries without losing her pose of competence; along the way, her father is a loving helper who gives her space. There’s playful dash to the digital art, with thick, scrawly lines and entertaining details (watch the cat) providing a robust and easygoing partner for the text. Nervousness isn’t limited to school, so this may provide kids with all kinds of apprehension a stylish way to explore their feelings. [End Page 421]

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