Beetle and Boo (Caitlin Murray, Puffin)
Beetle is not scared of anything. Monsters? Ghosts? Bad dreams? Wild storms and cracking thunder and lightning? Nope. Uh-uh. Not ever. Caitlin Murray’s Beetle and Boo is a story of challenging your fears and the mutual understandings between friends. Boo the bear thinks up terrifying hypothetical situations and questions a rather smug little bug, Beetle, as to how far his courage goes. But Beetle is completely nonchalant with a laid-back, self-assured attitude that nothing is frightening, and some seemingly daunting scenarios are even relaxing! It’s the combination of Murray’s minimal text and telling illustrations that work so well to show how potentially scary things can be perceived in a positive—even fun—light. Murray’s illustrations also portray the trusting friendship between the characters. Here, unspoken words prove the pair’s close bond after Boo gives Beetle an unexpected and amusing ‘roaring’ surprise. The lively painted insects (and rather sheepish-looking bear) dance on textured backdrops. Charmingly sweet and amiable, with bright, strong visuals and an underlying message of ‘things are not always as they seem’, Beetle and Boo is a cheeky and playful story that preschool children will delight in over and over again.
Romi Sharp is a digital marketer for children’s authors and publishers