Small Stanley’s Big List of Scary Stuff

Interlink/Crocodile. Nov. 2023. 40p. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781623717209.
PreS-Gr 2–Small Stanley has light brown skin, black hair, and he is a bit small. But he is mostly timid in a world that seems “stuffed full” of scary things. He wants to be a superhero, afraid of nothing. His eerily pale white grandfather suggests that Stanley list on paper all the things that frighten him. It starts with insects, expands to include dogs and cats, catapults nearly out of control over a memory of being lost and how terrible that was, then moves on to the dark, storms, monsters—like the three kittens in Jeff Mack’s Scaredy Cats, some of this seems self-induced, especially as Stanley realizes that he has a new concern. What if he loses the list? His grandfather suggests a walk, and the wind, indeed, takes the list away. Stanley has trouble remembering exactly what was on that list, and the boy is reborn. Morgan’s funny, effortless illustrations of a shy, gentle boy give way to one who hops, skips, finds a friend, and is happy. That grandfather! He’s right out of Edward Gorey or Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, but Stanley is the one who stands up to his problems. The superhero sidebar never reappears, but readers won’t mind. Have the pencils and paper ready.
VERDICT A sweet and very smart book that is full of truly terrible things that almost anyone would fear, this will inspire discussions of what is scary, what is not, and when it’s time to let the wind blow.

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