Reviews for Can't Scare Me!


Booklist Reviews 2013 September #1
At first glance, this feels like a familiar cautionary tale in which the small boy who fears nothing will learn a lesson in humility. Unafraid of lions or many-headed giants, this boy is certainly a "willful, thrillful child" who makes the adults in his life despair. But what does at last scare him turns this into a celebration of children's unfettered curiosity and daring. Bryan's lyrical poetry might be best read out loud: "The giant massacred the song; the scared boy's ears were ringing. / He hoped he'd never hear again, such awful off-key singing." The buoyant watercolors, bordered in a stained-glass design, complement the musicality of the text, mitigating any sense of fear--for example, Giant Three Heads guffaws through wide, goofy grins. In the end, this mischievous boy outsmarts all the demons and runs home and into the arms of his loving grandma. He changes his song to assure her that his escapades have taught him about fear, and he promises to be good from now on. Or for at least a little while. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2014 Spring
In this sprightly rhymed retelling, a little boy who "knew no fear" scoffs at his grandma's warnings about a two-headed giant. But then he's captured by an even fiercer three-headed giant. The boy uses his wits--and musical ability--to escape with a new understanding of the difference between bravery and daring. Rainbow-colored tempera and watercolor illustrations effectively portray a truly scary giant.

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2013 #6
The master storyteller offers a sprightly rhymed retelling of a folktale first collected on St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, by Elsie Clews Parsons and published in her Folk-Lore of the Antilles, French and English. The "oh so wild" little boy who "knew no fear" is warned of the two-headed giant by his grandma, but he is so bold that he scoffs at her warnings and runs off by himself to eat mangoes, play his flute, and sing. Sure enough, his music attracts the two-headed giant, who is not so fearsome after all, but he warns the boy of his much-fiercer older brother, the three-headed giant. Emboldened by the encounter, the boy tempts fate and does indeed meet the three-headed giant, who captures the boy and takes him home for his cook to serve up for dinner. The boy uses his own wits--and his charming musical ability--to escape with his life and with a new understanding of the difference between bravery and daring. Bryan's rainbow-colored tempera and watercolor illustrations underscore the protagonist's confidence--we all know he'll get away--but are also used effectively to portray a truly scary-looking giant. kathleen t. hornin Copyright 2013 Horn Book Magazine.

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Kirkus Reviews 2013 July #2
It's Anansi. It's Coyote. No, it's a boy wonder who knows no fear. Despite his diminutive size, this young, brown-skinned protagonist boasts of fearing nothing, even when his grandmother tells him that the two-headed giant and his three-headed brother catch and eat little boys who wander home after dark. When the three-headed giant does catch and prepare to eat the boy, only his musical prowess saves him from an untimely death in the giant's kitchen. The boy's refrain, "Tanto, tanto, I'm wild and I'm free. / Grandma's stories can't scare me," makes this tale imminently tellable, and his musical tune, "Too-de-loo-de-loo-de-loot!" makes it singable as well. Bryan's characteristically colorful and rustic paintings portray the contrast between the small boy and the massive giants well, making the boy's humility all the more amazing when he returns to the lap of his grandmother a wiser and more humble boy. Though some of Bryan's rhymes are forced and the giants seem more goofy than scary, the compelling plot and vibrant illustrations will keep readers entertained. This musical trickster breathes new life into an old tale. (Picture book. 4-8) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 July #2

In Bryan's folktale-style story, a boy is certain he's above the rules, but he doesn't suffer the usual comeuppance. Instead, he makes fools out of his enemies and earns his grandmother's admiration. "Tanto, tanto, I'm wild and I'm free./ Grandma's stories can't scare me," he crows, slipping away from his mother despite Grandma's warnings about a two-headed giant and his three-headed brother. The tune the boy plays on his flute emboldens him further, and Bryan repeats it often ("Too-de-loo-de-loo-de-loot!") as narrative punctuation. The boy stays calm when the three-headed giant catches him in a sack and tells his cook to fatten him up. Sure enough, the child's flute and quick thinking are enough to outwit his captors. It's the giant's screechingly bad rendition of the boy's tune that truly scares him: "His singing voice was worse/ Than any threat to eat him." Bryan's paintings have the warmth and substance of Diego Rivera murals, while the giants vibrate in phantasmagoric shades of magenta and lime. There's never any doubt that the boy will prevail, and there's something classically Homeric about his exploits. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 October

PreS-Gr 3--With his inimitable style and distinctive folk-art illustrations, Bryan tells a trickster tale from the French and English Antilles about a wild and fearless boy who doesn't flinch even when his grandma tells him stories of giants with two and three heads. He plays his flute ("Too-de-loo-de-loo-de-loot!") and sings: "Tanto, tanto, I'm wild and I'm free./Grandma's stories can't scare me./I'm bold! I'm brave! And though I may be small,/No many-headed giant scares ME at all!" However, encounters with both the two-headed and three-headed brothers in the jungle scare him a little, and when safely back at his Grandma's home he promises to behave: "Dear Grandma, now that I know FEAR,/I will be good, don't worry./If only you would tell me soon…/FOUR-HEADED GIANT'S STORY!" The lilting, loosely rhymed text reads well aloud, and the tempera and watercolor, brightly hued illustrations flood the pages with color and action. The stylized giants are not too scary and the book could be used successfully in storytimes with children's participation.--Judith Constantinides, formerly at East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, LA

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