Review of Don’t Worry, Murray

Don’t Worry, Murray Don’t Worry, Murray
by David Ezra Stein; illus. by the author
Preschool    Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins    32 pp.    g
6/22    978-0-06-284524-5    $17.99

In a series of humorous vignettes, timid pup Murray is urged to overcome his reluctance to do things by an unseen narrator, his owner. “Why don’t you want to go outside, Murray?” “Why don’t you want to go to the barbecue, Murray?” Each time, the dog is lured by his owner’s encouragement to give the proffered activity a go, only to experience a setback. For instance, at the park, he doesn’t “want to say hello to this new dog” because he’s afraid it will take away his toy. The narrator reassures him that the dog is nice, so Murray does engage with the newcomer—but then is knocked off his (four) feet by an overly exuberant “WOOF! WOOF!” Stein (Interrupting Chicken) skillfully uses repetition in text, page layout, and plot sequence to closely connect the day’s incidents and to build humor and characterization (it helps with independent reading, too). Mixed-media illustrations tenderly capture our protagonist’s personality and expressive eyes and body language. At bedtime, Murray is afraid to sleep because of potential nightmares. But his owner praises him for trying new experiences, calling him brave, and Murray happily nods off, dreaming not of monsters but of himself as a superhero. Children who recognize themselves in Murray will feel seen and, hopefully, empowered. A gem of a picture book, expertly crafted and oh-so-relatable.

From the July/August 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Martha V. Parravano

Martha V. Parravano is a contributing editor to The Horn Book, Inc., and co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog.

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