Take Off Your Brave: The World Through the Eyes of a Preschool Poet

by Nadim (Author) Yasmeen Ismail (Illustrator)

Take Off Your Brave: The World Through the Eyes of a Preschool Poet
Reading Level: K − 1st Grade
See the world through a small child's eyes in this enchanting collection of poems by a four-year-old, joyfully illustrated by an award-winning artist. For scared-sugar things, you put on your brave and you can take it off again, when you realize it's OK. And that's it. Scary and sweet. Scared-sugar. Four-year-old Nadim puts his words on paper and gives us a glimpse of how he sees the world: one filled with glitter, magical boxes, and cuddles with Mom. A place where school smells like daffodils and honey (and sometimes dirty socks), where Wednesdays are rainbow-colored, where fish in the sea make a shhhh sound, and where everyone has love, even baddies. The poems in this anthology make for joyful reading and are paired with vibrant, child-friendly artwork by Yasmeen Ismail that invites us to full-heartedly enter Nadim's world. At once funny and sweet, gentle and zany, this anthology may just entice readers young and old to release the poet within.

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This charming collection of original poetry is accompanied by vibrantly joyful illustrations. . . . Everything from cadence to word choice to imagery rings true to a preschool perspective, and audiences of all ages will enjoy the imaginative descriptions of and fresh insights . . these selections beg to be read aloud and will enhance classroom lessons and story hours.

Kirkus Reviews

Accompanied by energetic illustrations full of buoyant, frolicking children of varying races, the results of [Nadim's] first year of writing are striking: imaginative phrases, perceptive moments, and poems that feel finished in a unique way, with some bits and pieces you'd expect from a 4-year-old, not at all a bad thing. . . Teachers can use the structures of some of the lines as jumping-off points for students, and kids will be delighted to see the work of a peer in print. The poems themselves capture the newness and excitement of being a child. . . A colorful, warm collection that young readers and poets will savor.
--Kirkus Reviews 

School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 3--A series of poems dictated by a four-year-old boy to his mother, and supplemented with poems written by his younger sister and by his preschool class, provide insight into a child's budding artistic voice and elucidates broad themes of the everyday human experience. The clear, expressive free-form pieces examine the cornerstones of a young person's world: home, school, family, friends, sensations, memories, and emotions. Many of the verses reveal that certain linguistic and rhetorical devices typically viewed as intentional components of a poet's craft are, in fact, instinctive elements of human play originating in the landscape of imagination. Nadim employs onomatopoeia (a train ride "Feels like bumpity-bump/ Sounds like chuka chuka shhhh"), repetition ("It's my mom, it's my mom"), personification ("Wednesday wears a shirt with glitter on it"), and concrete symbolism (a mix of nervousness and excitement is dubbed "Scared-sugar"), all with a natural and authentic ease. In mixed-media illustrations replete with soft washes of desaturated color, Ismail locates introspective moments in the text and amplifies them, using them as jumping-off points for scenes depicting archetypal imagery of youth: exuberant dancing and pretend play, exploration in nature, a skinned knee, the peak of a jump-rope jump, hiding in a cardboard box. The treatment of these scenes--busy, but uncluttered; energetic, but never distracting--evokes both the wildness and calm of childhood. VERDICT This unique collection will serve as an appealing introduction to poetry for children: reflecting their daily experience to them, bolstering their appreciation of the written word, and perhaps inspiring them to construct poems of their own.--Jonah Dragan

Copyright 2022 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

In an introduction, educator Yasmine Shamma details the volume's beginnings: while inviting her son, then-four-year-old Nadim, to write a poem about coming home from school, she asked him to list the things he removes inside the front door: "You take off your brave," he told her, in a moment of insight that "shared his experiences of the world." These pages collect poems that Nadim dictated to his mother, poems by Nadim's sister, and some by his preschool classmates, too, on topics conceptual, experiential, and social-emotional. All feel fresh, spontaneous, and aware of important truths: "Nothing can make love disappear/ Not spells/ Not magic/ Not mermaids/ Not anything." With a loose line and sparky excitement, Ismail captures children of various abilities and skin tones in uninhibited play--dancing, pushing a puppy in a perambulator, presenting a huge bunch of flowers to a mother. Nadim notes, "Anyone can write a poem if they just put on a paper what they think," and the volume invites children to write their own, as they are. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)

Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

What on Earth could a preschooler have to say about the world? A tremendous amount, as it turns out — about love, school, flowers, life underground and favorite things. Some poems are profound in ways that only the very young, who wear their feelings out in the open, can be. . . . Nadim's poems, both deep and light, are great inspiration for other young poets — and a promise of more exciting things to come from the young artist. —The Virginian Pilot
Nadim wrote these poems as a four-year-old. In addition to poetry, he likes building stuff, learning about history, finding insects, riding his bicycle, playing with friends, and reading to his sister.

Yasmeen Ismail is an award-winning illustrator and animator who has a love of inks, paints, and watercolors. Her debut picture book Time for Bed, Fred! was a New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Children's Book of the Year. She is the author-illustrator of Christmas for Greta and Gracie; the author of Joy, illustrated by Jenni Desmond; and the illustrator of Nuts! by Lou Peacock. Yasmeen Ismail lives in Bristol, England, with her husband, their toddler, and Betty the cat.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
March 20, 2022
BISAC categories
JNF042010 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Poetry | Humorous
JNF019000 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Family | General
JNF053050 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Social Topics | Emotions & Feelings
Library of Congress categories
Children's poetry
Children's poetry, English

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