for When Sophie Thinks She Can't... by Molly Bang and Ann Stern
On a rainy day at home, Sophie is flummoxed by a math puzzle using various shapes (tangrams) to make a square, but her sister solves it right away. The next day at school her teacher challenges everyone to exercise their brains (which, she explains, is how brains get stronger, just like muscles) by building a large rectangle out of 12 small squares. Sophie knows before she even begins that it’s useless. “I CAN’T do puzzles and I’m NEVER smart at MATH.” Soon her tablemates all agree: The problem is too hard. “Now’s the time to use the Most Important word,” says their teacher. “That word is YET. You haven’t figured it out … YET.” It turns out there are many ways to solve the problem; Sophie does so by thinking about the rows of vegetables in her garden at home. A note geared toward adults about “growth mindset” follows this story featuring a character who will be familiar to some children (e.g., When Sophie Gets Angry …. Really, Really Angry) in a situation that will be relatable for many. (Ages 4–8)
CCBC Choices 2019. © Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2019. Used with permission.
When Sophie can't solve a math puzzle, she feels upset and inadequate. "I CAN'T DO IT!" she shouts, expressing the frustration all of us feel when we try and fail. Will she ever be "smart" like her sister? Maybe she isn't smart at all. Luckily Sophie's teacher steps in. What does it mean to be smart? Using current, popular "mindset" techniques, Sophie's class is taught that we get smarter when we exercise our brains, such as when we work harder at solving a puzzle. Struggling to solve a problem doesn't mean "I can't do it!" Sophie and her classmates just can't do it... yet! Readers will cheer when Sophie finally prevails, and at the end of the day, she's confident and optimistic. At home, Sophie uses her new technique to help her dad solve a carpentry puzzle. In this third book about Sophie, Molly Bang again helps children deal with a challenging everyday issue, providing an opening to ask: What do you do when you think, "I can't!"?
Publisher description retrieved from Google Books.