This is a bold statement, but Hannah and Sugar by Kate Berube is one of my favorite books of 2016 so far. It is definitely Pickle's, as he asks for it repeatedly (which is quite rare for him). I love it not just because it is a special story of overcoming fears, but I also I love it for what it has done for my oldest son, who is *ahem* basically scared of everything- especially dogs.
Every day when Hannah gets off the bus after school, Violet P's mom is waiting for Violet with their dog, Sugar. Every day, Mrs. P. asks Hannah if she wants to pet the dog, and every day, Hannah says no. Why? Through Berube's lovely illustrations, the reader can see that Hannah is scared of sweet Sugar. But then one day Sugar goes missing, and Hannah, all alone, is the one to find Sugar stuck in the bushes. What will she do?
One of the things I admire about this book is the way Berube plays with her illustrations. She so brilliantly intersperses comic style panels to slow down the story's pacing, together with full page wordless spreads to heighten tension and create maximum impact. When Hannah and Sugar come face to face, alone, Berube's portrayal of their interaction is fantastic. She manages to convey Hannah's actions with such a light touch, making them so realistic and relatable that Pickle constantly brings it up in conversation. This book provides such a tender exploration of fear and courage, and Pickle loves to shout at the end of each reading "Mommy, Hannah isn't scared anymore!" I love the way he so easily relates to this story and how I can now use it when he finds himself scared in certain situations. I cannot recommend this enough for your home collections, and I know we will use Hannah's courage as a discussion point for years and years to come. That's when I know we've come across something special.
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