There are many quotes about courage being what you do in the face of true fear. And if you want the perfect example of that, look no further than Bill Peet's picture book Cowardly Clyde.
Sir Galavant is the bravest knight in the realm. He's always on the lookout for some dragon or other great beast to fight. There's just one problem; his horse Clyde is a huge coward who hopes they never actually have to fight.
Clyde's worst fear comes true when a giant ogre starts attacking the farms in the kingdom and Sir Galavant sets off to fight. Can Clyde overcome his fear when faced with a real monster?
It's been a long time since I read most of Bill Peet's picture books, but something in the back of my mind was telling me that this was one of my favorites. When I reread it, I had a smile on my face as I completely enjoyed the story again. Yes, as an adult I guessed most of the plot from the first few pages, but I really did enjoy watching the story unfold.
Adding to the fun are the wonderful illustrations. Bill Peet did them himself, and they are engaging. The colors are vibrant as well, with each one being done in full color. And in some scenes, you can even see how scared Clyde is just by looking at him. Yes, they are that good.
These books aren't listed as easy readers, and some of the words would definitely give beginning readers a hard time. However, young kids will certainly get caught up in the story and enjoy every second of it. Some might be scared of the ogre, but he's not that scary, so I don't expect it to be much of an issue.
Each two page spread consists of maybe a third of one page of prose and the rest a picture illustrating the story in those pages, so it reads very quickly.
And I really like the message - courage is facing your fear even if you're initially run from it. Yes, it is obvious what we are supposed to learn from the book, but it never is preachy. The moral flows from the story, which is the best kind.
All told, Cowardly Clyde is a winner. You and your child will enjoy reading this one for a long time to come.
Other Bill Peet Books:
Ant and the Elephant
Big Bad Bruce
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