4 out of 4 stars
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Cotey is nervous about going to school at the start of third grade. He's smaller than everyone else, which leads to a whole slew of problems, like being picked last for kickball and being called wimpy. His teacher and mother are concerned about his self-esteem, and that's why his mother signs him up for a karate class. Will karate help him become more self-confident? Will the other kids finally stop calling him wimpy?
Wimpy, written by Christina Rondeau and illustrated by Mike Motz, is a 42-page children's book. It's most suitable for children in elementary school, second grade and up.
This book is meant to be empowering, and I think it succeeds. The author's note at the beginning is honestly just as motivational as the story itself. We see Cotey transform from a small child who sees himself as wimpy into a small child who is confident, even when he fumbles. I thought that putting him in a scenario where he's not instantly successful helped send the message home. Formerly, he might have shown great despair and shame in this particular situation, but instead of running away or being hard on himself, we see him engage in positive self-talk and try again. I enjoyed how the book shows that perseverance and hard work contribute to one's self-esteem.
The book is set up with one page of text followed by a full-page illustration. These illustrations are colorful and detailed, with Cotey's adorable dog hiding somewhere in each image. I don't know what font was used, but I really like it; it has the child-friendly feel of Comic Sans MS but is more aesthetically pleasing. The language is simple. The only words children might not be familiar with are those associated with karate, like "sensei," "ghi," and "dojo," but they are explained in the story.
I only came across two minor errors, and they didn't detract from my reading experience whatsoever. The only thing that I didn't really like was the background colors. It would change from sky blue to white randomly. The contrast between the text and the white background was particularly stark after reading a page with a blue background.
Regardless, that's a minor issue, and it doesn't stop me from giving this empowering book 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend this book to parents who want to learn more about how martial arts can benefit their children; I'd also recommend it to kids who are interested in martial arts. If your child struggles with self-esteem (particularly if it's from being smaller than their classmates) or you would like to teach them more about perseverance, I would highly recommend this book to you. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone who is uncomfortable with their child reading about karate or children sparring with one another.
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