Sam is a young, shy giraffe who loves trucks, dogs, and chocolate cake, but none of his classmates know this about Sam. In Beth Bracken’s Too Shy for Show-and-Tell, ($22.65, Picture Window Books, Little Boost series, ages 4 and up) Sam’s fear of speaking in front of his classmates makes him feign illness to try and get out of going to school on Show-and-Tell day. But, Sam’s mom sends him to school despite the real butterflies knotting up poor Sam’s stomach. When his classmates begin presenting their show-and-tell items, Sam notices that everyone gets applause. Even Otto, who says “weaf” instead of “leaf” gets applause from his peers. When it is Sam’s turn, he summons his courage and shares a little bit about himself with his classmates for the first time, and everyone claps.

Too Shy for Show-and-Tell is a perfect read for a child who struggles with shyness or anxiety about speaking at, or even attending school.  Jennifer Bell’s illustrations movingly depict sweet, but shy, Sam who wants nothing more than for his classmates to know him. Coupled with Bracken’s well-written story about overcoming one’s greatest fear, Bell’s softly sketched portrayals of Sam’s facial expressions and body language show just how much his shyness affects him. The story has heart and purpose and would be an excellent addition to any collection.

Reviewer Karen B. Estrada has 9 years of experience as an English educator teaching students ranging from 6th grade to adult learners. She got her start teaching as a participant of the JET Program, during which she spent 3 years living and teaching in a rural Japanese town of 5000 people.  Since then, Karen has continued to teach English and Writing Skills at various levels in diverse settings such as Harlem, New York City, suburban New Jersey, and semi-rural Maryland. She holds a BA in English from Trinity University in San Antonio, TX and an MA in Teaching of English from Teachers College, Columbia University. Karen is currently taking a short break from teaching as she awaits the arrival of her first child due in late April.

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