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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Are you brave? Can you do anything you set your heart to do? Even when you’re awake and the others are teasing and bullying you? Nino is a platypus and he wants to believe he’s the bravest in Animalandia. Well, he is in his dreams. But the other creatures like to torment Nino and they won’t let him play with them. They even make fun of him because he looks different. What Nino needs is a surge of magic, or at the very least a boost of self-confidence. Do you think he’ll get both?
Victor Dias de Oliveira Santos’s picture book story, Just Like Magic, is a powerfully inspirational story for young readers to help them find their own confidence in being brave against all odds. The author leads the reader through Nino’s distress at being bullied and tormented, cut off from fun games with other young creatures. Then he makes a wish, and the plot thickens as Nino learns the power of believing in himself. The language is simple and incorporates a genie and a little bit of magic, helping young readers relate to the somewhat magical, and often elusive, concept of self confidence: “And just like magic, he felt confident and strong.” The illustrations are bright and colorful and help move the story along. This is a great tool to help young readers not only gain their confidence, but to also accept others for their differences. The story is both fun and encouraging. Like Nino, young readers will learn that they don’t have to be afraid of anything: “If he wanted something, he didn’t give up until he got it.” Bravo, Nino!