Book Review: Benny The Brave

By Julie Anne Penn and Darren Penn; Illustrated by Sergio De Giorgi

By Amanda Elshahawi, Creator, Enchanted Literacy May 17, 2022

Recommended Ages 4-8 years

Benny The Brave in The First Day Jitters is the first in an upcoming series teaching kids the power to be brave, kind, grit and calm. Written by New York City local authors, Julie Anne Penn and Darren Penn. Using cognitive behavioral therapy the story is written to help children understand that our thoughts can create our feelings. This story helps give kids tools to change negative thoughts and regulate emotions in a positive way.

In this story, a young girl, Sarah, is feeling scared about starting her first day at a new school. As she heads out the door, she is suddenly greeted by her comic superhero, Benny! Benny guides her through a heart-to-heart where Sarah admits different reasons she is feeling scared like her new school is far away, her new teacher might have a long slimy tail, or that no one will want to play with her. Benny listens to all her thoughts and sympathizes with how she is feeling. He then turns around each statement she made with a “But...what if...” statement. But...what if.. your new teacher has a pet turtle just like you! With this new perspective, Sarah feels empowered to take on her first day.

This book is relatable and appropriate for kids, who have all faced new challenges. Patiently showing all the different types of fears exaggerated or realistic can provide an outline to help kids feel comfortable talking about and working through their emotions. Learning skills that are sure to help them at any stage. The bright, fun and inclusive illustrations are the cherry on top of this resourceful book.  

At the end of the story, readers will find a simple four-step process to go through to help one feel brave. There is also a QR code to “Make your own Brave Book template” that parents and teachers can use after they read the story to kids. We recommend pairing this book with other superhero activities. Talk about things that make you scared and use the steps listed in the book to talk about those feelings. Make a game such as an obstacle course and run through it like a superhero. This can help build confidence while having lots of fun. You can also make a bravery badge, write a poem about courage, read other books and identify when characters are being brave.

Check out this book, in e-book format, for free on Amazon during their launch week from May 17-20th. Be on the lookout for the other three books from Team Supercrew series releasing this summer featuring Keisha the Kind, Chloe the Calm, and Gen the Grit. 

Amanda is a preschool teacher, mother and avid Central Park picnicker. She values community and is an advocate for families in the foster care system. One day she hopes to publish a children's book of her own. In the meantime, you can follow her Instagram, Enchanted Literacy, which encourages imagination and passion for reading.