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Reviewed by Marta Tandori for Readers' Favorite
The Baby & Her Brothers’ Short Stories: Feeling Small, written by Ebonie Williams and illustrated by Navi’ Robins, is a much-needed children’s book that puts a slightly different spin on childhood bad dreams. Young Cameron, usually the first one up and about, is still lying in bed with a sad look on his face when his mother goes to wake him up along with his older brother, CJ. CJ tells their mother that Cameron is sad because he’s had a bad dream and, after some coaxing from his mother, Cameron admits to having a dream in which he was the smallest kid in the room and that everyone was older and bigger than him. More to the point, because of his size, Cameron couldn’t do all of the fun things the big kids could do like go skateboarding, climb the monkey bars or shoot hoops. Every time he tried to do those things, he couldn’t. Cameron’s mother listens to her young son, pulling him into her lap, before imparting some practical thoughts on the subject – as only a mother can – until she’s interrupted by Cameron’s younger sister, who’s eager for a bike-riding lesson. Little Charlotte’s unexpected arrival brings home his mother’s message in a way that touches the heart.
Instead of the typical monsters lurking in the closet or under the bed, little Cameron’s anxiety of being small manifests itself in Feeling Small through his “bad dream”. In today’s society, many young children develop anxiety issues over fears of being abandoned, being alone, being too small, being too big, or too fat. Williams’ book is valuable in that it recognizes children have anxieties and that it’s acceptable – not to mention important – to share them with a grownup. Cameron’s mother gives the right response by not downplaying her child’s anxiety. Instead, she turns the size issue into a positive, focusing on those things her son is able to do. Robins’ colorful illustrations add vibrant energy, underscoring the positive tone of the story. Sadly, anxiety in children today is all too real but Ebonie Williams' The Baby & Her Brothers’ Short Stories: Feeling Small goes a long way toward tackling the difficult subject in a sensitive and loving way.