By Sonya Hartnett
Illustrated by Gabriel Evans
Reviewed by Barbara Braxton
Each morning when she wakes up, the little girl doesn’t want to go to school. There are so many reasons why. She doesn’t make friends as easily as you’re supposed to; she can’t run and jump and climb as well as she is supposed too; she’s not chatty or fast of funny; not bossy or loud or wild. And she anguishes about answering questions in case she is wrong. She constantly compares herself to her peers and finds herself wanting, so the anxiety builds and builds.
But she gathers her courage and goes each day, although it’s at her mother’s insistence. Finally, her mother asks her why she doesn’t want to go to school and they have a conversation that turns her life around. With her new-found perspective she ventures outside with her cat Piccolo and begins to see that being different is what everyone is and that it is to be celebrated rather than shunned or feared. “Things being different is what makes the world wonderful.”
So many children suffer anxiety because they view the world through the lens of what they think they should be, rather than who they are. They watch others do things, listen to adults admire looks and skills and achievements , feel the impact of peer pressure as others boast… and all the while they don’t realise that others are admiring them for their unique attributes.
This story is one for the mindfulness collection as it not only has the power to spark discussion but to promote self-acceptance and a change of mindset. Anxiety amongst children is on the rise at an alarming rate and the sooner we can teach them that life is not a competition, that who they are at this time is enough; that it our uniqueness that makes the tapestry richer, the better. Hartnett has done this beautifully.