Witches, monsters, goblins and hungry wolves—children’s stories are full of dangerous and evil creatures. The world, as seen through the eyes of a child, is indeed a scary place.  

If you’ve ever observed a toddler, you know that any new object or person is to be regarded with skepticism until thoroughly tested. A dose of healthy caution does protect us, but part of growing up is summoning the courage to face, and hopefully overcome, one’s fears. It is a long process of taking two steps forward and one step back, over and over again. 

Pre-teen Seymour Goldfarb’s list of fears is longer than most fourth graders’. Life is bearable only because he has mastered the art of avoiding just about everything. Then one summer an Israeli cousin comes to visit and ruins Seymour’s complicated plans. Seymour has excuses to avoid the beach, birthday parties, all sports, and his crush, but unfortunately his cousin isn’t buying any of it.

Seymour is forced out of his (very tiny) comfort zone by the cousin who wants to see and do everything. The turning point is seeing his seemingly unflappable cousin become afraid in a moment of crisis. Read about their hilarious summer adventures in Kar-Ben’s middle grade novel,  Seymour, The Formerly Fearful. The cringe-worthy awkwardness is a gentle reminder that, hey, we’ve all been there.