Of all the things children should experience in their young lives, a “problem” isn’t one of them. But what if a problem does present itself to a child? What should he or she do? Run…or stay and face it?
That’s the premise of author Kobi Yamada’s lovable 2016 picture book, What Do You Do With a Problem? In the book, a precocious little MC suddenly discovers he has a problem. The worst part is that “he didn’t ask for it and he didn’t want it…but it was there.” He asks himself the typical questions a person with a problem is prone to ask, like, “Why is it here?” and, “What does it want?” But of course the problem never answers, because problems don’t talk. They just follow you around until you solve them.
After trying to wish, shoo and scowl the problem away, he realizes just how stubborn this problem is. This makes him worry about the problem, and this worry makes the problem seem as if it’s growing bigger and bigger. Then he tries to hide from his problem, going as far as disguising himself so it won’t recognize him. But that doesn’t work, either. It is only when he realizes he must face his problem that things begin to change.
This is a simple but amazingly clever picture book about what it feels like to be hounded by a problem. The prose is delightful naive and unassuming, and is written as if it comes straight from the mind of a young child trying to figure out what to do about his or her dilemma. The illustrations (by Mae Besom) are just lovely. They are done up in somber pastels and pencil grays, and feature the adorable, wispy-haired ‘tween boy trying to escape the dark cloud that follows him absolutely everywhere. With each page turn readers see the dark cloud growing bigger and darker, an at-a-glance demonstration of how a small problem can balloon if it isn’t addressed.
Use this book to begin discussions about how to face problems and what happens when you don’t face/address problems. It can even be used to brainstorm about the various types of problems children face at different ages.