I’m not scared


ALFIE IS NOT AFRAID Written and illustrated by Patricia Carlin 32 pp. Disney-Hyperion. $A23.95. (Picture book; ages 3 to 7)

CHICO THE BRAVE Written and illustrated by Dave Horowitz 32 pp. Nancy Paulsen Books. $A33.99. (Picture book; ages 4 to 8)

Small children well know (though their parents sometimes need reminding) that “I’m not scared” and “I’m scared” often mean the same thing. Little boys can be afraid, but their stuffed dinosaurs, not. And saying "I'm not scared" sometimes makes it come true.

The heroes in two new picture books shift between owning up to and denying their fright: one ends on a note of courage, while the other acknowledges and affirms the logic of fear. In “Alfie Is Not Afraid,” a debut by the author-illustrator Patricia Carlin, it’s never quite clear whether it is the narrator or the narrator’s dog who’s the scaredy-cat. Probably both.

Either way, the pair decide to camp outside for the night: “Alone in the wild, like real explorers.” In other words, in the backyard. 

Without a good watchdog, the boy confesses, such a scenario might prove frightening. 


I’m Not Scared (New York Times)