Two Shy Pandas
Written by Julia Jarman
Illustrated by Susan Varley
32 pages • Published 2013 (Andersen Press USA)
Recommended Age Range: Preschool through 1st grade.
Publisher's Summary: Panda longs to play with Pandora next door, but he’s too shy. Pandora longs to say “Hello, Panda!” but she’s much too shy, too. Will these two shy pandas ever muster up the courage to speak to each other?
Dr. Annie's Takeaways
Recommended for: A sweet read for children who feel shy in situations where they’re expected to make new friends. Provides the perspective that there are probably lots of other children out there who feel the same way as the child reading the book and who would love to play if the child were willing to take a risk and ask.
Would a child like it? A younger child would enjoy this book, including the built-up tension of Panda and Pandora’s potential friendship (we can see that they’d be great friends, but until they meet, they don’t know this) and the satisfaction of their eventual friendship. It’s a sweet story.
Evidence-Based Practices: Cognitive restructuring
Tone: Sweet, comforting
Story Quality: This story is told in a rhyming verse that makes it extra cute and friendly. It’s a sweet story, and it has just enough dramatic irony (i.e., the reader knows that the pandas both want to be friends with each other, but the pandas don’t know that…yet!) to be exciting to a kid and to provide a satisfying resolution in the end.
Illustrations: Cute watercolor illustrations of pandas with expressive faces.
Representation: Panda is a male panda bear cub. He lives next door to Pandora, who is a female panda bear cub. The pandas have human-like homes and interests (e.g., racing trucks, playing with a doctor’s kit, throwing snowballs).
Psychological Practices: Many children who are shy and/or socially anxious imagine that they’re the only ones feeling this way. This story normalizes and destigmatizes feeling shy. It also models the perspective-taking strategy of considering that someone else may be feeling just as shy as the child reading the story, and that they might not be the only one hoping that another child might want to play with them. The pandas eventually work up the courage to go next door to meet each other, literally run into each other, and then realize that they both want to be friends.
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