You’ve Got Dragons (Kathryn Cave & Nick Maland)

Hello, friends! Our book today is You’ve Got Dragons by Kathryn Cave and Nick Maland, an allegorical look at how we deal with our worries.

As a young boy plays in a city park, the narration points out that you never really expect dragons to turn up – and that’s exactly when they often do. You wonder if you’re dreaming, or you can pretend they’re not there, but the fact remains to the same: you’ve got dragons. Toothy, scary, cumbersome, distracting. You can run from them or fret about them; they can cause you to make silly mistakes or withdraw from others. And getting rid of them, well that seems almost impossible. But the thing is, you can do it. By facing your dragons head on, by using humor and awareness to make peace with them, suddenly they will shrink and become tame… and perhaps even fade into nothing when you least expect it.

An interesting and heartfelt attempt at helping young people through their anxieties and fears. The allegory of the dragons is a strong one, and many of ways in which the text describes how the dragons affect the unnamed protagonist’s life and thoughts are strong metaphors: the temptation to deny or ignore their existence, how they can become intrusive thoughts that plague us at all hours, and how having them is not because a child is bad or at fault (the latter being an extremely important distinction to make for young readers). And the tips on how to deal with these anxieties are solid: acknowledge the problem, find ways to laugh, dedicate time to sorting it out. The illustrations feature imposing but not frightening dragons, appropriate for the tone of the story. The spreads are finely detailed and incredibly well-laid out, yet this is occasionally lost in the muted color scheme. Lastly, I wish there had been more emphasis that dealing with problems, anxieties, and intrusive thoughts is never something children must do alone (hugs and talking are only briefly mentioned). This is a longer one and best for older bookworms; JJ enjoyed the art but was getting antsy near the end. Still, this is a great jumping off point to talk with kids about their own dragons, and we liked it. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

P Is For Psychology (Natasha Schvey)

Hello, friends! Our book today is P Is For Psychology, written by Natasha Schvey and illustrated by Nicole Jones Sturk, third in a series of alphabetic primers of advanced fields, illustrated by Sturk and written by subject matter experts.

Little readers will have a crash course in psychology terms, some simple and more broad (such as “mindfulness”, “attachment”, or “therapy”), and some more specific to the field of mental health and study (like “Classical Conditioning”, “Delusions of Granduer”, or “Melanie Klein”). The illustrations display the concepts, often converting them into humorous or simplified visuals for little readers to laugh at or connect to (two dogs training a human with a bell and a slice of bacon for “Classical Conditioning” was a favorite).

These books have been sleeper hits in our household, and the newest follows the tradition of E Is For Economics and L Is For Law by providing clever and memorable visuals to punch up rather complex subject matter. Best of all, this book is the first to feature a glossary of terms in the back, an immense help for readers of all ages who might like to learn more about what the “Zone of Proximal Development” is. For those well-versed in psychology, there are cute, clever visual winks, such as a recreation of the Stanford marshmallow experiment to illustrate “eXperiment”. And perhaps best of all, all of the subjects relating to emotions and therapy are depicted in a positive, encouraging light; the artwork for “Therapy”, in which a smiling boy calmly and casually chats with his therapist, is a great way to show little ones that there is nothing scary or wrong about mental health. Sturk’s illustrations feature a diverse cast, the length is fine for a quick read, and as I said, JJ loves these books! A cute primer for families who have experience in the field of mental health, or would love to learn more together, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the author in exchange for an honest review.)