When life seems to be hard both inside school and out of school, books can often help soothe a youngster’s soul as well as open up discussion.  This collection of books I have chosen is a perfect segue into helping solve dilemmas that are creeping into your child’s life and are causing angst.  All are picture books and are good for ages four through eight.

Malina’s Jam, by Svetla Radivoena, is a sweet story about a very shy hedgehog who learns that it can be easy to make friends when you have something to share.  This adorable little hedgehog enjoys making delicious raspberry jam and then reading at days end.  And when she begins receiving compliments on her jam, she hands them out to other woodland critters.  What she discovers by giving these jars is that she is readily developing friendships and doing so without feeling hesitant or shy.   The beautiful earth tones of orange, green and brown make the vibrant red berries pop out.  Be sure to read the Author’s Notes found at the back describing how she grew up loving drawing and how she moved from Bulgaria to California to become part of the Disney Animation Studios.

Everyone Gets a Say, by Jill Twiss, and beautifully illustrated digitally by Eg Keller, demonstrates the democratic way to decide issues.  This is a simple story about a cute little snail and his friends that include a chipmunk and a goose.  But they are all disagreeing on what to plant in their little piece of land and the argument is escalating.  This is when they realize there must be a better way to decide and voting seems most logical and peaceful.  This very colorful and artistic book is a wonderful way to show youngsters the importance of getting along as well as voting with the elections coming up.

Don’t Worry, Little Crab, by Chris Haughton, is a very effective story demonstrating first experiences can seem daunting, but to go forth and try.  Chances are it will be worth the effort.  Little Crab is about to go beyond his little rock pool and attempt a dip in the big ocean for the very first time.  His friend, Very Big Crab, is right beside him all the way.  There is minimalist text and detail on every page along with the onomatopoeia sounds of waves whooshing by.  The author’s trademark minimalist illustrations match the text with great visual dexterity.  Mr. Haughton is also able to capture the excitement and nervousness of the crab that easily can be paralleled to a child.  There is also a lightness and humor conveyed.  It’s also nice to see the support of the small crab’s friend always there with him.

Rot The Bravest in the World!, by Ben Clanton, is a hilarious story about a mutant potato, Rot.  He loves swimming, playing and rolling in mud.  But when his big brother plays a trick on him by telling him there is a scary squirm below the mud, Rot is not only scared to go into the mud, but this news takes away his great enjoyment getting dirty.  So, Rot is determined to conquer Squirm even though he is so frightened.  Reading about what he does to conquer his fears is not only empowering to a youngster, but very funny.  The art was made by using watercolors, colored pencils, potato stamps and digital collage.  This is the second book in this clever series and makes for a perfect read aloud book!

Tiny Feet Between the Mountains, by Hanna Cha, is gorgeously painted with a clever theme.  Young Soe-In lives in a Korean village where her constant struggles are with her tiny size and trying to get her chores done on time.  However, she has an undying attitude of never giving up.  When the sun seems to go away, she decides to climb the tall mountains to investigate.  What she discovers is a spirit tiger has accidentally swallowed the sun and fire glows throughout his body.  He is miserable and needs help but how can a tiny young girl help?  How she perseveres and discovers a solution will encourage even the tiniest and youngest reader to strive for achievement.  The double-page illustrations were made with pen and ink, watercolor and digitally manufactured.  There is interesting background information found at the back of the book.

Ravi’s Roar, by Tom Percival, is the latest book in the author’s stories dealing with feelings.  Ravi is the youngest in his family and that makes him the smallest which really begins to annoy him.  He continually feels like he is the last to get to the park or the playground.  He is so small he can’t quite reach the monkey bars.  As the story progresses, his frustration becomes greater.  The color of his face becomes redder and he seems to become a ferocious tiger.  There is much to learn in this book as you see how his anger is dispelled.  Be sure to check out excellent tips on controlling anger found in the back of the book.  The vibrant illustrations were made digitally by using natural media brushes for Photoshop and a selection of hand-painted textures.

Chicken Little: The Real and Totally True Tale, by Sam Wedelich, is a clever and humorous spin on the familiar tale about that chicken not telling the truth.  Chicken Little is a brave bird who likes an audience. But when something falls on her head, she may have overreacted! As she investigates, her feathered friends become alarmed and begin racing to hide anywhere they can to prevent the sky from falling on them.  Ms. Little seems to be the only logical bird in the barnyard and states their dilemma.  The digitalized illustrations are delightful and fun, and Chicken Little is adorable.

If You Come to Earth, by Sophie Blackall, is my last reviewed book on this subject for a reason.  This book wonderfully points out all the beauty in God’s gorgeous creations and the diversity on this spectacular earth. There is much to look forward to and enjoy in this life.  This book rewards the reader like a guided tour of the majesty found on the planet.  It begins with our solar system then onto cities and towns, then onto families.  It covers different weather, animals and even disabilities.  This book is a celebration of life which surely brings appreciation to all who open this magnificent book.  The brightly painted pictures were made with Chinese ink and watercolor.  Be sure to check out the end-pages.