I first heard about SHY very recently, on day 13 of Tara Lazar’s Storystorm: If you aren’t familiar with Storystorm (formerly PiBoIdMo), please do yourself a favor and check it out. While it’s geared especially to writers and illustrators, anyone who’s interested in the creative process will benefit from this month of idea generation with inspiration from daily blog posts.

Storystorm day 13 featured a post by teacher Colby Sharp who detailed his experience running a “Mock Caldecott Awards” with his class of third graders. His post made me 1.) wish I’d had Colby Sharp as my third grade teacher, and 2.) really want to read Deborah Freedman’s SHY, the winner of his “Mock Caldecott Awards” against some super stiff competition including THE NIGHT GARDENER, THEY ALL SAW A CAT, FREEDOM IN CONGO SQUARE, and WE FOUND A HAT.

Title: SHY

Written and illustrated by: Deborah Freedman

Viking, 2016, Fiction

For Ages: 4 and UP

Themes/Topics: shyness, bravery, books, bookworms, birds, nature, adventure, friendship

First page:

“Shy was happiest between the pages of a book.”

Summary (from publisher):

Shy loves birds. He’d love to watch them fly and hear them sing, but he’s only ever read about them in books. . .until a real bird comes along.  He’s dying to meet her, but there’s just one problem:  Shy is, well, shy–so shy, in fact, that he’s afraid to leave the gutter of the book.  Can Shy overcome his fears and venture out onto the page?

Why I Like This Book: Like the title character in SHY, I was bashful growing up. And, like the title character, I often hid away in books. But Shy doesn’t just hide himself metaphorically in books—a small arrow on the first spread suggests he’s literally hiding in the book’s spine. On a first read, we don’t know what he looks like. We don’t know if he’s human or animal.

Because Shy also loves birds, when “a REAL bird trilled by,” he is inspired to follow the vivid yellow songbird to “a land far away.” I won’t give away what happens when he finds the bird or who Shy is because the mystery is part of what makes the story so fun. That said, the story stands up to repeat readings because of its lyrical text, moving depiction of bravery, and gentle watercolor and pencil illustrations.

Ideas for Teachers: Teachers might ask each student to write about a time when he or she showed bravery, perhaps overcoming shyness or fear. (And, unrelated to SHY, next time the Caldecott Awards are approaching, take a cue from Colby Sharp and complete a Mock Caldecott Awards unit with your students.)

(For a mighty large list of links to picture book reviews, along with resources, please visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s site:


16 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book Friday: SHY

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