Magically Better Me! | Critical Book Review
In Barry Shin’s “Magically Better Me,” an unexpected insect takes center stage, delivering a dose of positivity in a collection of feel-good short stories. However, as enchanting as the premise may be, there’s a bit more to uncover beneath the surface.
A Journey through Change and Positivity
Shin weaves two tales, “Tiny Beliefs” and the titular story, each focusing on a protagonist navigating unfamiliar territory and confronting unprecedented changes. The stories, positioned as “common sense stories,” guide readers through lush natural settings, challenging circumstances, and the transformative power of a shifted mindset.
“Tiny Beliefs”: A Canine Perspective on Change
The first story introduces Flynn, a canine character facing an unexpected move. Alone in the woods, Flynn encounters Lady Mady Bug, a wise insect offering affirmations and guidance. Lady Mady Bug becomes Flynn’s mentor, teaching him to approach his new reality with positivity, patience, and an open mind, ultimately finding happiness in unexpected places.
“Magically Better Me”: Navigating New Friendships
The second story revolves around Paka, a young boy transitioning from city life to the countryside. Struggling with making friends and adapting to his new surroundings, Paka crosses paths with Lady Mady Bug. The insect imparts wisdom on opening oneself to friendship, even introducing the concept of seeking “friendship permission” to ask for help. However, this advice, while well-intentioned, may seem overly simplistic, especially for older readers.
A Delicate Balancing Act
Determining the ideal age range for “Magically Better Me” proves challenging. While Shin’s descriptive writing style captivates older readers, the simplistic nature of certain concepts, especially in the second story, may leave them yearning for more depth. The rhyming character name, Lady Mady Bug, and the straightforward advice given to Paka might be better suited for a younger audience.
The Verdict: A Mixed Bag of Inspiration
While the second story may fall short for some, the overarching message of shifting perspective from “I can’t” to “I can” through confidence and positivity remains admirable. “Magically Better Me” serves as a tool for children undergoing times of change, offering valuable lessons wrapped in the charm of an unexpected insect mentor.
Publisher, Genre, Print Length, and ISBN
|Middle Grade/Short Stories
In Barry Shin’s “Magically Better Me,” an unexpected insect takes center stage, delivering a dose of positivity in a collection of feel-good short stories. However, as enchanting as the premise may be, there’s a bit more to uncover beneath the surface. A Journey through Change and Positivity Shin weaves two tales, “Tiny Beliefs” and the…