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Shy Charles


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About the Author

Rosemary Wells is the author of 120 books for children, including more than 40 about the beloved bunnies Max and Ruby. She travels all over the country as a tireless advocate for literacy. Wells was born in New Jersey to a playwright father and ballet dancer mother who encouraged her artistic bent. She worked as an art director and designer before illustrating her first book. She is the mother of two grown daughters, Victoria and Marguerite, and grandmother to four girls.


``Charles is as happy as he could be,'' but he is so shy he won't thank Mrs. Belinski for a treat, and he refuses to play with Wanda Sue or answer the phone. ``This can't go on,'' says Charles' father, but all attempts to nudge mousy Charles into action backfire. When Charles is enrolled in ballet class, he hides near a potted plant and pretends to be asleep. And when his father buys him a football helmet with silver wings, Charles ends up having to be carried off the field in disgrace. Then Mrs. Block, his babysitter, falls down the stairs and shy Charles efficiently handles the emergency all by himself. Wells' rhyming text is spare and clever and she shows an acute understanding of the painfully shy child. Whether Charles is anxiously peering out from underneath his helmet or eyeing the fearsome telephone, readers will find this quiet hero and his winsome smile beguilingproof that shyness does not preclude competence. Ages 4-8. (September)

PreS-Gr 2 Charles is as quiet as a mouseand it doesn't bother him one bit. His rodent parents try everything from bribery to scolding, from ballet to football, but Charles resists all of their efforts to make him become more outgoing. It isn't until he is faced with the emergency of an injured babysitter that he springs into action and saves the day, only to revert to his shyness when his parents return. Wells' illustrations, in the familiar style of her Stanley and Rhoda (1978) and Hazel's Amazing Mother (1985, both Dial) show the plump, large-eared cast to be full of charm and cleverness. Facial expressions, posture, and background details substantially extend the humor of the story. The simple rhythm of the rhyming text is subtle and playful. It is refreshing that Wells offers no sudden transformation of Charles, nor does she propose any easy solution to his situation. Instead, she present a welcome portrayal of a common trait in young children with empathy and respect. Starr LaTronica, North Berkeley Library, Calif.

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