The Boy Who Knew How to Believe is a story about a determined young boy named Nicky. Nicky has his heart set on receiving something special and strongly feels that he will obtain what he is believing for. He continually thinks about it, talks about it, and acts like he already has what it is that he wants. He becomes somewhat discouraged after a friend tries to place doubt in his mind, but he still carries hope and the belief that he will receive exactly what his heart desires.
I received this book from the author for free. All comments and opinions are entirely my own and this review is voluntary.
In the author bio, Ms. Scott says that she enjoys reading books that “promote positivity and growth, and inspire people to achieve their goals in life” (page 23). I can definitely see how she endeavored to promote positivity, growth, and pursuit of one’s dreams in this book. However, I don’t think that this book effectively shows children how to have healthy, authentic relationships or pursue their dreams.
In order to have healthy relationships and achieve their dreams, children need to learn to communicate their needs. Instead of drawing a dog and manifesting it, Nicky needs to learn and feel comfortable enough to say something like, “Hey Mom and Dad, I saw this kid at the park who had a dog, and I want a dog! I think I have the emotional capacity to love and care for it.” Additionally, Nicky seems to have a heaven’s rewards fallacy with his Uncle Harry (page 16). It’s difficult to determine if he actually loves his uncle, or he just expects him to bring gifts. Instead of fostering an authentic relationship, Uncle Harry is practically buying Nicky’s love and affection, which is an incredibly toxic thing to teach young readers.
Also, as a parent, I want to teach my son how to work toward his dreams. If you want something, you can work toward it: make a plan with your parents, do chores, volunteer at the humane society, etc. in order to work toward your goal of having a puppy. Contrary to what this book teaches, talking to your drawing of a puppy is not going to manifest a puppy for you.
Besides my issues with the content of this book, I also found the writing style difficult to enjoy. In writing, we teach students, “Show, don’t tell.” It felt weird to me that the first paragraph says, “Little Nicky… lives with his loving parents” (5). If the character’s parents love him, the writer needs to show that through action and dialogue. I understand that the author wants to encourage healthy family dynamics, but simply stating it is not going to stick with a young reader.
The illustrations also failed to engage me. They feel auto-generated and don’t have a lot of soul. For example, the images on page 8 feel copy-and-pasted, instead of flowing naturally with the layout; the illustration on page 13 confused me because the characters’ facial expressions did not reflect real human interaction.
For these reasons, I give this book one star. I would not want this book in my home or classroom.