April 20, 2012

Rosie and the Nightmares

Rosie and the Nightmares
By Philip Waechter; illus. by author
No Author Site
3-4 Preschool Primary Chronicle 32 pp.
978-1593541156 Hardcover $15.99

Rosie is a bunny beset by horrible dreams. She puts on her red coat and goes to visit a dream specialist who declares that she has a "clear case of fear of monsters." He prescribes a book (Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Monsters), which the very proactive Rosie goes  out and reads. She learns many monster-handling skills, (how to be a "calming influence," how to do an incapacitating throw, and how to run in emergencies), all lovably pictured with Rosie and a fanged paper bag. Finally, Rosie tests herself at the amusement park's Tunnel of Fear. She drives her little red car into the fanged entrance an proceeds to meet the monsters head on, pouncing and attacking and kissing the most gruesome on the nose. Triumphant, Rosie leaves the amusement park and, after treating herself to ice cream and jasmine tea, falls asleep to happy dreams.

Though a book worth reading, there are a few problems with Rosie and the Nightmares. Waechter's prose is tends to be a bit overwritten, and it's not entirely clear that Rosie had to attack the monsters in the Tunnel, (it may have been more effective to simply show her facing her fears and having a great time on the ride rather than acting the aggressor unprovoked). That said, Waechter's illustrations are worth the price of admission. His monsters are more silly than fearsome - theoretically scary but not enough to actually disturb young readers - and Rosie is a take-charge charmer in her little red coat. With a slightly New Yorker quality to them, and well-chosen details paired with plenty of white space, Waechter's pen and ink watercolors are an emotionally vivid treat. As a not-so-subtle metaphor, Rosie and the Nightmares succeeds, modeling a proactive approach to facing ones fears and showing little ones that, even though something scares you, you can help yourself learn how to handle it.

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