Sometimes I'm Afraid by Maribeth Boelts attempts to help kids deal with common childhood fears by teaching them to turn to the Lord for peace and protection.
The book tells the story of three children from the same neighborhood. Jake is scared to take a spelling test at school. Nika is afraid of monsters in her closet. And Brandon is afraid of a storm.
Jake's mother prays with her son about his test: "God, you are Jake's help and his place of safety. Please be with him as he takes his spelling test, and strengthen him when he feels afraid." When his mother's prayer sinks in, Jake suddenly feels he really can take the test.
Nika's grandma cuddles with her in bed, singing church songs and turning on a light. "God helps heal scary thoughts," Grandma says, and soon Nika feels better.
Brandon is awakened by a lightening storm, but his father comes into his room and prays with him: "Father, you love and care for us, and tonight Brandon is afraid. Please calm Brandon's heart. Help him feel your love and young strong arm of protection around him through this stormy night." After a while, Brandon falls back asleep.
As the neighborhood awakens the next morning, the author tells us: "[God whispers] 'I am with you...I will help you...I love you'...And God whispers that promise to you today."
What I Like: I love that Boelts shows kids how to handle fear through prayer while giving specific prayers every child can base their own prayers on. Cheri Bladholm's illustrations are realistic and do an excellent job of showing emotion, and it's nice that she shows children of several ethnicities.
What I Dislike: As I've said before, the problem with children's books on fear is you run the risk of introducing fears your child has never considered before. Every child is different, however, and if your child has some of these typical childhood fears, this is an excellent book to read to him or her.
My real gripe, however, is that Nika's grandmother doesn't tell her granddaughter monsters don't exist. Instead, she says: "There are no monsters allowed here," which makes it seem monsters might be allowed elsewhere.
Overall Rating: Very good.
Age Appeal: 4 to 8.
Publisher Info: Zonderkidz, 2004; ISBN: 0310706572; hardback; $9.99