Sheila Rae, The Brave by Kevin Henkes follows Sheila and her brave actions. However, one day she is not very careful and ends up getting lost when trying to take a new route home. I believe there are many great aspects of this book, but there were also a couple parts I had small issues with.
Sheila Rae is a very brave girl, and that is a great characteristic to attach to a female character. There needs to be more children's literature where female characters are represented in this way. She is creative, takes chances, and has no fears. Henkes provides readers with examples of her doing all of these things. However, I believe it is healthy that children be a little fearful or at least skeptical of certain situations. Sheila Rae decided to take a new route home from school that was unfamiliar because she was "brave". Bad idea. She ends up getting lost, but luckily her little sister followed her and can lead them both home safely. Sheila Rae acknowledges that her sister is now fearless and brave. This gives the book the happy ending most readers (such as myself) desire. Although this is a book, having a character choosing to do something risky is not something I really think is a good idea. There would not always be someone following to lead a child back to safety. This was my slight issue. However, this could be taken as an opportunity to teach children that this is a dangerous behavior and that "they know better, right?".
The illustrations in this book are similar to Kevin Henke's other books, and I enjoyed them. They are detailed and colorful. My favorite aspect of his illustrations are the dialogue within the pictures. It gives the book a little something extra in my opinion. In this book, there were far less than in the other books I have read though. I also really liked how the illustrations often had multiple scenes represented on one page with sentences below each.
I would recommend this book to others, and I am glad I read it. It was a fun story with developed characters. Although I did not really like the ending, it could be used to help children understand that taking an unfamiliar route is generally not a good idea. The pictures kept me entertained as well as the story.