Friday, July 9, 2021

Review: Growing Pains by Alison McLennan

 Today's review takes a gentler turn toward kindness, nature, and simply being concerned about others. 

by Alison McLennan
Illustrated by Melissa Johns
EK Books
Picture Book
32 pages
ages 4 to 8

When Finn’s family plants a tree in the backyard, he feels responsible for it and worries the little sapling is cold, hungry or lonely. He tries to share his breakfast with the tree, offers it his scarf, and spends the afternoon keeping it company. Just after going to bed, his nightlight goes out and Finn is plunged into darkness. As his nerves start to take hold, it occurs to him that his tree is outside in the dark, every night! But when he sees that his little tree is standing tall and brave in the moonlight and doesn’t seem afraid, it inspires Finn to be brave as well. And so Finn’s kindness and curiosity end up helping him to overcome his fear of the dark. Growing Pains is a touching story about curiosity, kindness, empathy, care of the environment, and overcoming your fears.



Kindness and innocent curiosity make Finn a child to like from the very first page, and one young listeners will easily identify with.

Finn planted a tree in the yard with his family, but when he's told not to leave the house because it's cold, he begins to worry that the tree might be cold, too. Wanting to make sure the tree is as happy and comfortable as possible, Finn finds himself spending more and more time with the tree. But the tree might offer him something as well.

Finn's concern for the small sapling is already sweet and makes him a character, who is easy to like. He has a big heart, and listeners will have no trouble sympathizing with Finn's concerns. But this book is only about Finn's worries. Finn's shared time with the tree creates a gentle and calming atmosphere, which shows how wonderful simple things can be. But there is a bit of tension, too, which the author weaves in toward the end...and even this is a situation many listeners will identify with.

The text is just right for the age group and sticks to a few lines for each scene. The story flows smoothly and allows the illustrations to add their spark and even  a pinch of humor. These are done in a textured style, which allows artistic flair while keeping everything easy to identify. 

This is a sweet read, which is perfect for those more calm moments. And after reading this one, parents might find a scarf around one of their own trees.

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