Picture Book Review: Carefree, Like Me! by Rashad Malik Davis

Carefree Like MeCarefree, Like Me! Chapter 1: Root the Brave written and illustrated by Rashad Malik Davis

From Goodreads: What happens when two best friends get bored? They go to another universe of course! Introducing Carefree Like Me, the illustrated tales of a sensitive, heart-on-your-sleeve type kid named Amir, his no-nonsense, rough and tumble best friend Neena, and the grand adventure they find themselves on in a whole ‘nother realm! This will be the first book in a series of 7, each book dedicated to telling a larger story with a focus on a particular hero and a brand new adventure. 

I’m posting a review of this book today because there is currently a Kickstarter campaign running for the second installment in the story. The author/illustrator is really passionate about producing these books and they’re a lot of fun. If you can or would like to donate go here: Carefree, Like Me! Chapter 2

Carefree, Like Me! is a series designed to help encourage emotional intelligence in children. The first book follows two children, Amir and Neena, as they go on an adventure to discover different emotions. While playing one day the two friends run out of ideas for things to do. Amir goes to his father who gives him a magic amulet that takes the two kids to the spirit world.

Once there they meet a creature who asks for help and takes them to the king. The king is terrified and hiding out in his bedroom. He keeps hearing a scratching sound under his bed. The kids find this funny because of the king, who turns out to be a bull named Root, is so large. But they’re also sympathetic. Amir shares some advice his dad has given him when he has been scared: face your fears head on. Together Root, Amir and Neena peer under the bed and discover…well, I won’t spoil the surprise, but it’s not at all what anyone expected.

The book ends on a cliffhanger. Just as the kids begin to celebrate conquering fear and practice bravery, they’re transported off to another place and another adventure. Davis has created a truly enjoyable series with endearing characters. He has bravely written the book in verse and while I personally find rhymed text a little irritating, it works here. It helps pace the book and makes a topic that can feel didactic (social-emotional intelligence education) and preachy (spirituality) feel playful and engaging. The text itself is not super complex and I would probably call this an easy reader as well as a picture book. The size of the book makes it feel more like a picture book, but it could easily be read by an emerging reader. Certainly it isn’t any more difficult than some of the more challenging easy readers available on library shelves.

Davis has not only developed the story line and written the story, he has also illustrated the book. Here his style is cartoonish and exuberant and it really fits the mood of the story. Amir and Neena are drawn as brown-skinned kids. There aren’t many sci-fi/fantasy books featuring non-white characters and yet there are plenty of non-white kids that love to read those stories. How refreshing to see these children reflected in the genre.

Be sure to try and get a copy of the series as it comes out and include it for your fantasy readers and kids who like humorous stories with a little substance.