I Did It! and Let’s Go! by Michael Emberley

I was recently sent both of these delightful children’s books (one of them signed by the author, too!) and thought I’d do an appreciation post/review of both in one entry.

I Did It! was written first, and is probably my favorite of the two. Our unisuited protagonist is trying with the help of their friends to do very fun things, including build a block tower, climb a tree and throw a baseball. When their attempts are unsuccessful, frustration ensues. The friends then all come together to fix and ride a bicycle. Will they be able to accomplish their aims this time? More importantly, will they be able to stay positive even in the face of a seeming defeat?

While this is billed as a comic, it really has the feel of a traditional picture book. Tbc, both are great! My middle child read quickly through it with me, and we both deemed it cute and funny. It’s great for beginning readers, with its limited vocabulary and adorable, colorful art providing full context for the characters’ dialog. The book conveys so much with so few words, while modeling extremely useful sentences for children to know and use themselves as they tackle life’s challenges.

I also used this book to successfully help soothe my reluctant reader youngest child Theo out of a tantrum. My husband barred the kids from playing Doors In Real Life because someone always gets hurt and cries — as they did earlier today — which set off a fresh round of tears and protests because Theo wanted a chance to finally win. He was assuaged with some joint deep breathing and stretching in a calm environment, followed by reading this book, which both validated his frustrations and encouraged him to keep trying to manage his emotions.

The second book, Let’s Go!, fits the more traditional comic book concept. It also goes for a slightly more abstract conceit as the characters make their way through the pages of the volume in order to attend a party they’ve been invited to. The art shows off delightful papercraft techniques as the characters have all sorts of misadventures that require them to figure out new modes of transportation. As with Michael Emberley’s earlier book with this same cast, the dialog is minimal but focuses on key words and phrases that kids actually need in their everyday lives.

The main reason I preferred I Did It! to Let’s Go! is because the lack of words made it more difficult to understand the high concept behind the second book, a problem I certainly didn’t have with the first. While I loved the creativity, I had to go back repeatedly and make sure that I, a 40-something year-old, was understanding the context properly. Ofc, my middle child had no problem accepting this, and was a bit surprised while recapping it to me that I had so many questions. Clearly I was suffering from a deficiency of the imagination (or too high expectations, more likely.)

Overall, a very cute duo of books that are perfect for young readers and should mark new entries into the canon of classics. I Did It! even won a Theodor Seuss Geisel Award, which should give you a pretty good idea of its high quality.

I Did It! by Michael Emberley was published October 11 2022 by Holiday House and is available from all good booksellers, including

Let’s Go by Michael Emberley was published January 10 2023 by Holiday House and is available from all good booksellers, including

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