“Riley the Brave,” by Jessica Sinarski, illustrated by Zachary Kline, Cameck Publishing, 2017, hardback, $18.99

Riley, the bear cub has lots of friends to play with. He loves to zoom around on his scooter like Travis the duck. Another fun thing is to make silly faces like Jorge and eat honey like bear cub, Sophie.

Riley has endured through difficult times in his life that make him feel mixed up and causes him to act out. Sometimes he’s able to be brave and not need help from anyone. He’s trying to figure out which animals are safe and won’t hurt him nor ask him to keep secrets. Riley doesn’t need to worry that he will run out of food.

He wants to be brave in spite of his scary feelings. One bothersome feeling is his fear of being left alone, but he’s learning how to admit his fears of anger or sadness instead of becoming a prickly porcupine.

The bravest attempt Riley does is instead of crying and curling up into a shell is to ask for help. Now all the big animals are beginning to call him Riley the Brave.

Jessica Sinarski has created a story for little cubs and big critters to read together. She offers this picture book for a young child who has experienced devastating trauma. When your “little critter” loses it and misbehaves, you as the parent are trapped into a cycle of defense and mistrust.

It’s challenging to develop compassion for the whole child. Many children who have experienced trauma in their early life continue to feel unsafe. They don’t have the reasoning skills of an adult.

Zachary Kline’s gigantic illustrations filled with color will attract both boys and girls, and even the therapists and educators who use the book. The power of storytelling to give good behavior effective support is tapped to change the environment.

As you read Brave Riley, make it fun by quacking like Travis and make silly faces like Jorge the frog. Riley the Brave is the story of a little bear with big feelings.

JoAn Watson Martin is an educator.

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