For most kids, the first day of school is scary enough as it is. But what if you had to face your worst fear on the very first day of classes? That’s the situation that Jelly Bean Dean finds herself in, thanks to a piece of mysterious machinery in Tracy Stanaway’s Jelly Bean Dean and the Bubble Machine (Fulton Books). How do you conquer your fears when they feel so overwhelming?

BUBBLE TROUBLE

On the last day of summer vacation, Jelly Bean Dean is taking a walk on the beach when she sees a piece of machinery washed up on the shore. Once the little gadget is unearthed from the sand, it’s able to fly all by itself, shooting out bubbles as it follows Jelly Bean Dean on the walk home. The next morning, Jelly Bean Dean even finds the machine in her backpack! It seems that this strange invention has a mind of its own.

At school, the class is in the middle of a lesson when they hear a commotion coming from Jelly Bean Dean’s backpack. In a soapy explosion, the backpack tears open and the strange machine flies out. The room is showered in bubbles, one of which traps a spider and sticks to the teacher’s shoe. When a student points this out to Ms. P. Bean, she shrieks, throwing the class into further chaos. It turns out that Ms. P Bean has quite the case of arachnophobia!

Soon it becomes clear that each student has their worst fear encased in a bubble beside them! It’s only by keeping calm and putting their heads together that the class is able to defeat their fears and banish them back inside the bubble machine.

TEAMWORK MAKES THE JELLY BEAN-WORK

Author Tracy Stanaway is far from a beginner at writing the adventures of these jelly beans. Her first book of this series, Jelly Bean Dean, introduces the titular main character and the lesson of self-acceptance that she learns alongside her classmates. Now the jelly bean class is back for more lessons, this time about facing your fears ​​ and from Ms. P Bean’s fear of spiders to one student’s fear of clowns, these phobias are only too relatable. Some of the fears are more nebulous, however; Jelly Bean Dean’s fear is the pressure of perfection. As she and her classmates learn to conquer these fears, Jelly Bean Dean accepts that striving for perfection isn’t necessary. Instead, she learns that “if you just do your best with a worker bean’s heart, you’ll know you’re off to a very good start.”

The lessons of Jelly Bean Dean and the Bubble Machine extend far beyond the jelly bean classroom. Young readers are sure to empathize with the characters and their fears, and can learn alongside the students as they conquer these anxieties. The story also encourages teamwork, showing how the class is stronger when working together than when facing their fears alone. Readers of Jelly Bean Dean and the Bubble Machine will learn that they have the strength to be brave and that through it all, their friends will have their back.

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About Tracy Stanaway:

Tracy Stanaway is an author living in Montana. She’s a retired dance teacher and an all-around musical person. Her first children’s book, Jelly Bean Dean, is written in memory of her mom Jerrine Dean.