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Just Because

By Matthew McConaughey & Renée Kurilla

Reviewed by Barbara Braxton

Just because I’m in the race,
doesn’t mean I’m fully ready.
Just because I’m shaking,
doesn’t mean that I’m not steady.
Using a series of rhyming couplets accompanying compelling vignettes, this new book could be your mindfulness program for the term as it explores “the contradictions and complexities that exist in each of us” as we try to navigate what we believe and  what we confront, what we expect and what we experience. By focusing on each situation and unpacking it, young readers begin to understand that their world is not black and white, that there are those fifty shades of grey and there are layers to both their feelings and their relationships as they learn about finding common ground and compromise without betraying their own beliefs and needs. 
“Just because I forgive you, doesn’t mean that I still trust.
There’s what you do, there’s what I do, and yours is not my must.”
As our little ones mature, they are able to move beyond their hands-on, here-and-now view of the world and begin to think on a more abstract level where they can see things from the perspective or others, understand cause and effect, consider what-ifs and maybes, be more flexible and able to delve into underlying meanings. This book offers a wide range of readily recognisable situations that offer lots of opportunities to discuss what the words mean and what the child might do in a similar situation as well as beginning to understand metaphorical language. For example, Just because they threw the dart doesn’t mean it stuck not only lends itself to considering when we should take notice of criticism but also whether a dart was physically thrown.  
There are many books that are released with a celebrity’s name on the front cover automatically giving them publicity but then the hype doesn’t live up to the reality, but this one deserves all it gets.  Whether it’s in a family library or the teacher’s toolkit to pull out at opportune moments, it provides possibilities for all sorts of learning as we guide our little ones to be the sorts of adults we want them to be.

Puffin, 2023

Reprinted with permission The Bottom Shelf

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