Book review: Too shy for show-and-tell by Beth Bracken & Jennifer A. Bell

“Sam was a quiet boy. Nobody knew much about him.
Sam loved trucks, but nobody knew that.”

When I saw this book at the library, I knew that I had to read it with C. She had some issues with show-and-tell at school – she’s not exactly shy, but just wasn’t confident enough to speak in front of her classmates. “What if I don’t know what to say? They will laugh at me!”

The title says it all – Sam, a shy little giraffe, is worried sick about having to do a show-and-tell in school. On the day of his show-and-tell, he tells his mother that he is sick, and his teacher that he forgot to bring his show-and-tell item. “Is he a liar?” C asked me – I had to explain that he did lie, but he did so because he was terrified of standing and speaking in front of his classmates because he was so shy. We also discussed how he could have expressed his emotions.

Of course, in spite of his excuses, Sam still had to do his presentation. While waiting for his turn, he imagined all sorts of worst-case scenarios – saying the wrong things, fainting, crying. At this point, I could tell that C identified with Sam, she kept quiet and was nodding to all the scenarios portrayed.

However, as the show-and-tell session progressed, Sam slowly gained more confidence, especially when one of his classmates said a word wrong, but no one seemed to notice. When his turn came, he realised that it was not that bad afterall. The illustrations portrayed this slow increase in confidence beautifully, showing the little giraffe frowning in the beginning, to a proud confident smile at the end of the presentation.

At the end of the book, a happy Sam is shown waving happily to his friends, in contrast to a shy and withdrawn demeanor at the beginning of the book. He had conquered his fears, and now ready for the next show-and-tell.

Language used in the book is simple, and easily understood by young preschoolers – C had no problems reading it by herself, and connecting to Sam’s emotions. I loved the realistic scenarios in the book – Sam’s young classmate saying “weaf” instead of “leaf”, the emphasis that his classmates clapped at the end of each presentation. C really enjoyed the story, and we were able to discuss her fears of public speaking.

A truly delightful book to share with pre-schoolers on the topic of shyness. C was definitely encouraged – she is now looking forward to the next show-and-tell session (or so she says… :))


4 thoughts on “Book review: Too shy for show-and-tell by Beth Bracken & Jennifer A. Bell

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