Always Believe
by Pamalamadingdong

"'Silly Beth, you don’t need me anymore. You believe in yourself, don’t you?'"

The resounding message of this picture book comes alive through the story of a girl who learns to believe in herself with a little help from her family and an imaginary friend named Ozzie. Beth is preparing for a role in the school play when she begins to doubt herself as she struggles to remember her lines. When she tells her sister Dizzie about her fears and worries, Dizzie tells her to believe in herself and enlists the help of her own imaginary friend. Once Beth opens herself up to believing, she can see Ozzie. Both her sister and Ozzie help Beth memorize her lines and practice for the performance. Her newfound confidence in herself propels her through the play and leads her to welcome her own imaginary friend from Imagiland into her life.

The combined message of finding support within yourself and outside yourself is powerful and thought-provoking for children as they are building their confidence and self-esteem. Beth must find the strength within herself to believe, but she accepts help from those around her to buoy her when she needs it most. Beth's story also capitalizes on other important themes about taking chances, trying new things, working hard, and going for it even when you are not entirely sure of the outcome. These are lessons many parents and teachers will want to share with children as they develop and grow.

The bright illustrations that accompany the story will likely entice children, and they will appreciate the imaginary friends drawn with Seussian abandon. They are wild creations from a dream world and imagination personified in their expressions, stature, and adornment. The pages with illustrations burst with color and help tell the story of friendship, support, and belief in oneself.

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