Confident Coco by Chanh Kien, Phuong Ong and Claire Amore
Illus. by Aleksandra Szmidt. Little Steps Publishing, 2020. ISBN:
(Ages: 3-6) From her appearance alone Coco oozes confidence; the front page shows her wearing a cape, with a wide stance, hands on hips and head held high. The illustrative style uses large heads on a small body which also adds to her larger than life confidence. But there's one thing at the park Coco isn't confidence about: the big slide. Her other friends go down but Coco feels too small, she's scared that she might fall or go too fast or crash to the ground. Her friends are wonderfully empathetic in a way that we hope all children would respond to the fears of others: "Ruby shared, 'I know how you feel, I was scared too, and the fear is real. But I pushed through, I told myself I'd be fine . . . What was holding me back was all in my mind." We hear Coco's thoughts as she works to push through her fear, emotions that will be identifiable to most young children. Eventually she takes a deep breath and with a new push of confidence and encouragement from her friend she decides to give it a go and trust that everything will be okay. "This is the fear that I own today. I need to do this in my own way," she says as she sits down and pushes off from the top of the slide.
This is quite direct in the way it teaches strategies for confidence and resilience but it is told in a way that is accessible and meaningful, especially because it uses a context that most young children will identify with. "With belief in herself and a friend supporting her through, Coco's got the confidence to tackle anything new". The modelling of both how to support a friend though fear and strategies to support yourself through fear is near perfect. The end of the book also contains discussion questions that will help to facilitate conversations about these two aspects. Themes: Confidence, Fear, Rhyming story.