July 2020, Clarion/HMH, 32 pp
Alfred the possum, who plays dead, and Sophia the armadillo, who rolls up in a ball, stand in for shy or anxious humans whose discomfort keeps them from fitting in. Jennifer Black Reinhardt has cast animals with defense mechanisms as characters to tell an imaginative, endearing story about learning to make friends by mastering fear and shyness. Alfred and Sofia open up to each other and go on to help other creatures who have social difficulties by practicing patience, forgiveness, and friendship—tools for overcoming the barriers that keep us from connecting with others. An author’s note lists real animals and their defensive behaviors.