It’s OK, Slow Lizard by Yeorim Yoon, illustrated by Jian Kim

It’s OK, Slow Lizard by Yeorim Yoon, illustrated by Jian Kim. Translated by Chi-Young Kim. Restless Books, 2021. 9781632062772

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Format: Hardcover

Genre:  Fantasy/picture book

What did you like about the book? This charming picture book shows children that slowing down is a way to deal with intense emotions. Slow Lizard explains that living a slow life allows him to see and hear many things, which helps him help his friends. Little Bird is anxious, so Slow Lizard ask them to sit and drink flower tea together, and Little Bird’s stress melts away. Little Bird helps Elephant with frustration over broken laces by tying them and suggesting they look at the sky through a hole in a leaf. What a clever idea! Rabbit and Monkey are also friends who benefit from Slow Lizard’s friendly advice to take their time and redirect their feelings to a calm activity.

Lovely, delicate colored pencil art sets the story in an abundant forest, and portrays the animals as loving friends. Slow Lizard is like a kind friend or wise caregiver, so their advice is never harsh. Details in the warm, lush world will be fun for small readers to pore over. I appreciate that none of the animals have gendered pronouns, so any kid can picture themselves as the anxious bird, frustrated elephant, disappointed rabbit or mischievous monkey. The message is one of self empowerment – that slowing down can calm big emotions, and that friends can help. It’s an important skill for kids to learn.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Much of the story is told through dialogue between the friends. The problem is that this text is in quotation marks, which makes it awkward to know who is speaking (there is no “I said” or “Little Bird said”), so the reader will need to insert identifiers. Also, why is the title “It’s OK, Slow Lizard”? “It’s OK” is what Slow Lizard says to his friends; no one has to say it to Slow Lizard. Maybe it’s a problem with the translation.

To whom would you recommend this book?  For ages 3-6, for bibliotherapy around mindfulness, or just to enjoy a sweet miniature world akin to Kaya Doi’s Chirri & Chirra.

Who should buy this book? Daycare centers, elementary school and public libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Picture books and/or parent collections around “Big Feelings.”

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Near the top.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: January 29, 2022

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