When You’re Scared
When You’re Scared
They’re very scared.
She’s very scared.
He’s very scared.
They’re no longer scared.
When a young boy goes camping in the woods with his mother, he is a little scared to jump into the lake from a tree limb. Later on, he becomes very scared when, by himself, he encounters a bear cub as he goes to drop off garbage. As it turns out, the bear cub is equally scared as it is also alone and has fallen into a large garbage container bin and can’t climb out. Both mothers come to rescue their young—each experiencing fear and hesitation themselves as they spot each other. After mother and son place a large tree trunk into the garbage bin to enable the bear cub to climb out, the human pair watch from a distance as the mother bear reunites with her cub. By the time evening falls, there is another parallel between both mother/young pairs when they both find themselves no longer scared as they watch the night sky.
There is not much depth or detail in the storyline by Andrée Poulin (intentionally—in fact, several pages have no text at all), but the vivid two-page illustrations by Véronique Joffre are appealing. A large variety of disproportions, a vivid colour palette, and stencil-like designs are examples of what draws readers in. When looked at closely, there are small-sized clues in the background of most pages that give hints as to what will come next in the story. For example, early on in the story when the boy and his mother are at their campsite, the mother bear and cub can be spotted in the background walking towards the garbage bin.
The carefully crafted illustrations and lack of text allow readers the opportunity readers to create their own dialogue and predictions throughout the book. A fun way to engage young readers would be to have them pretend that they are one or more of the characters when reading aloud with someone, such as their own mother, who would be able to prompt them and point out clues.
Overall, When You’re Scared makes for a good home reading book or one-on-one classroom read, but it is likely not captivating enough to become a repeated read.
Andrea Boyd is an early years’ teacher in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She is currently pursuing a Master of Education degree specializing in Language and Literacy from the University of Manitoba.