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Book Reviews

When Addie Was Scared

by Linda Bailey, Wendy Bailey, illus.

Addie is a little girl who is scared of almost everything. She’s scared of the turkey gobbler in the farmyard, wild things that live in the bush, and wolves that howl at night. She’s scared of the bull that lives between the family farm and her grandmother’s house and walks an extra mile to Babcha’s to avoid it. Addie is sometimes even scared of things that aren’t there. But one afternoon at Babcha’s, a chicken hawk swoops down out of the sky, looking for prey, and almost without thinking Addie picks up a fallen branch and beats at the sky, yelling as loud as she can to keep the hawk away.

When Addie Was Scared is based on a true story that Linda Bailey’s mother, Addie, tells of her own childhood growing up on a prairie farm in the 1930s. That real-life connection likely accounts for the book’s lack of a simple happy-ever-after resolution. Addie finds the courage to scare off the chicken hawk but that isn’t the end of her fears. She still jumps every time she hears a crackle in the bush and walks that extra mile to avoid the bull. But what Addie discovers is a core of inner strength that will allow her, with time, to conquer her fears.

When Addie Was Scared is illustrated by Wendy Bailey, Linda’s youngest sister. Unfortunately, the pictures are flat and rigid in comparison with the fluid emotional depth of the storyline. Most successful are the aerial perspectives, especially the series of dramatic images of Addie battling the chicken hawk.

Like Celia Lottridge’s Something Might Be Hiding, this book is a welcome addition to Canadian children’s literature dealing with childhood fears.