Tuesday, February 11, 2020

I've Got This! I'm Brave! I'm Strong! I'm Five! by Cari Best

I've had Mama's stories and Papa's jokes and coffee kisses. It's bedtime now," they said.

But I'm not tired.

It's crunch time. It's dark in her bedroom. Mostly dark.

But this girl has power over the darkness. She's got her flashlight. She makes patterns, putting one hand over the light. She pretends it is a headlight and and lighthouse lantern.

But there are noises! A phone rings somewhere. A piano plays and a baby howls. She investigates out the window and sees what's making the noises inside her neighbors lighted windows. That's just people doing normal stuff. But what about that scary giant eye on the moon. What about the spooky shape she sees (sort of) on her bedroom wall? Should she be afraid! She looks at the moon, but it's the same old moon as always. She switches on her flashlight and sees no ghost, just her tree costume for the class program. But what's that clattery sound? Something big?
I could always call Mama. She'd come in with Papa.

But "No! I'm brave! I'm strong! I'm five!"

With her blanket protecting her and her flashlight lighting up the room, she sees it's just her cat Tuna, who has taken a clumsy leap in the dark at the stack of books on her floor.

Wait! She can read her own bedtime story until she's really sleepy! Wow!

She's five and she's got what it takes to put her own self to sleep, in Cari Best's charming story of bedtime fears overcome, I'm Brave! I'm Strong! I'm Five! (Holiday House, 2019). Being five years old is empowering, and this girl is well on her way. Author Cari Best skillfully builds a soupcon of suspense, step by step, while her plucky heroine takes care of the business of developing independence. Artist Boris Kulikov makes the most of the murky shadows and bright flashlight beams with a masterful use of nighttime colors and crosshatching in his evocative illustrations, and readers know this five-year-old has totally got this bedtime business under control.

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