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Children's Bookshelf

September 07, 1986|KRISTIANA GREGORY

SHY BUT NOT TOO SHY and UNFAIR BUT NOT TOO UNFAIR both by Dave Jackson, illustrated by Susan Lexa (David C. Cook: 32 pp.; ages 4-8). Both of these paperbacks are subtitled "Storybooks for Caring Parents" and are organized so that adult and child can explore a variety of problems together. Jackson, who is also author of "Dial 911: Peaceful Christians and Urban Violence," limits religion to one Bible quote per story, with a few references to God and prayer.

Large print and friendly illustrations will certainly invite youngsters to gaze at these pages. Each book is prefaced for parents with brief but cogent explanations, then the stories are followed by "Think It Through" questions to help the child explore difficult feelings. In "Shy," Jeanne travels with her family to a relative's farm but is nearly paralyzed with bashfulness until she discovers a puppy. The passage from Matthew (7:7) suggests the way in which Jeanne is finally able to cope: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." Two other stories show Jeanne struggling to build her self-confidence, as she tries to make friends on a train trip, then tries for a part in an Easter play.

"Unfair" features Katie as a child of divorced parents. When she suffers, what seems to her, a major injustice, she runs away only to learn a new meaning of thankfulness. In another story, her grandpa helps her understand an unhappy experience at school. "Life is filled with things that are unfair, but God lets us face them so our spirits can get stronger," he tells her. "Life isn't ever so unfair that you can't get through it with God's help."

Children need to feel the safety of a guiding adult. With just a hint of preaching, these books establish an opportunity for one-to-one sharing, as well as introduce some moral principles.

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