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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Joshua and Stranger Danger is a children’s picture book written by Joan E. Derrick and illustrated by Laila Savolainen. Seven-year-old Joshua was on his own that afternoon after school came out. He usually had his older brother for company, but Ethan wasn’t there that day. Joshua walked with his friend, Aden, and Aden’s mum to their car, while he waited for his own mum to arrive. As they drove away, he noticed how quiet and deserted the street was. Suddenly, a policeman approached him and addressed him by name. He told Josh that his mum had been injured and that he had been sent to get him. Joshua instantly got scared at the thought of his mum being hurt, but Tav, his spirit guide, quickly appeared between him and the policeman. Tav demanded Josh’s attention. He reminded Josh about “stranger danger” and how teachers have told him only his parents and grandmother can fetch him from school. Tav instructed Josh to run back inside the schoolyard and then see what the man did.
Joan E. Derrick’s story book for children, Joshua and Stranger Danger, is an important story that addresses the dangers children face from people who pretend to be sent by their parents. Like Josh, most kids’ first reaction on hearing that a parent is injured would be to go with the policeman. Josh’s perceptive spirit guide, Tav, helped him remember the training his teacher gave him and realize that even though the man knew his name and appeared to be a police officer, going with him was the wrong thing to do. The need to be vigilant about stranger danger is something that cannot be repeated often enough, and Derrick’s tale is an ideal vehicle for doing just that. While kids are taught that policemen are their friends, when it comes to strangers and being picked up from school, different rules apply. Derrick also discusses how our bodies may give us warnings when we’re in danger, such as a creepy crawling feeling or a dry mouth. Laila Savolainen’s illustrations capture the intensity of the story perfectly. We watch as Josh is approached and can feel his fear as he runs away. Joshua and Stranger Danger is most highly recommended.