Tag Archives: Moving

PPBF – Hello Goodbye, Little Island

Today’s Perfect Picture Book is set on the island of Singapore, a place I sadly have not visited…yet! But I think readers still wary/unable to stray far from home will enjoy this virtual visit. I know I did!

And while reading is a wonderful way to escape the confines of home, our library is only open on a limited basis for the foreseeable future with no interlibrary loan service (my “local” is one of the smaller libraries, so most books I review I order through interlibrary loan). In light of the difficulty of obtaining books to review at present, I’ve decided to take a break for the summer. If I’m able to get my hands on a book or two to review, I may post periodically, but otherwise, I look forward to resuming in the fall. Enjoy the summer! Happy reading!

Title: Hello Goodbye, Little Island

Written By: Leila Boukarim

Illustrated By: Barbara Moxham

Publisher/Date: Marshall Cavendish Children/2018

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: moving, friendship

Opening:

Maja had moved to the little island with her family not long ago.

Brief Synopsis: Sad to have left her former home, Maja begins to like living in her new island home when she meets a friend. But when that friend moves away, Maja is again sad and lonely, until she finds a new friend.

Links to Resources:

  • Have you moved to a new house, school, or community? How did you feel? Draw a picture of something that you like about your new home, school, or community;
  • If there’s a new student in your class at school this fall, try to help them feel welcome. Think of some favorite activities that you could share with them;
  • This story takes place on the island nation of Singapore. Singapore icons are incorporated into the illustrations, and they are explained in the back matter. Readers can search the illustrations for them as a seek-and-find game.

Why I Like this Book:

Moving homes, schools, and countries is difficult for anyone, but especially so for young children. So it is that Maja, the main character of Hello Goodbye, Little Island finds the food, vegetation, and climate strange in her new home, and she repeatedly asks when the family can return to their old, familiar home.

When Maja starts a new, larger school and meets a friend through whose eyes she can see the little island, “it was not so strange anymore.” But like several places where my family lived when our children were young, Maja’s new school was filled with expat families, who remained only a few years in one location. Maja’s new friend was leaving!

Once again, Maja “found herself in a strange land”, with everything seeming “different”. Until, that is, Maja discovered a new friend.

Boukarim captures Maja’s dejection at losing a friend and her happiness at finding a new friend, two feelings that children who have moved house, schools, or communities will be able to relate to well. I also like that Maja and Nour, her new friend, expand their friend circle to include a lonely boy who also is new and misses a friend.

Because Hello Goodbye, Little Island is set in Singapore, an island nation in which many expatriates live and work for a few years at a time, Boukarim populates the story with children from diverse backgrounds and cultures. I like how these characters see the beauty in their differences and learn from each other.

Moxham’s unique illustrations are a combination of collaged photographs and black and white illustrations, with icons of Singapore scattered throughout.

A Note about Craft:

In addition to featuring an endearing main character, Maja, who enjoys quiet time spent with friends, Boukarim features many items and activities found in Singapore. I think these specifics, which are new to Maja, help readers understand and empathize with her feelings of loneliness and being in a “strange” place. Adding the seek and find layer to the story increases its re-readability, and this also may expand the age range to older children interested in learning about Singapore.

This Perfect Picture Book entry will be added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

 

Perfect Pairing Stays Home

Two recent picture books explore the concept of home, which, as a serial mover, is a topic near and dear to my heart, especially now, as so many of us are spending most of our time at home.

Home in the Woods

Author & Illustrator: Eliza Wheeler

Publisher/Date: Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House/2019

Ages: 4-8

Themes: family, home, Great Depression, poverty

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

This picture book from Eliza Wheeler is based on her grandmother’s childhood and pays homage to a family’s fortitude as they discover the meaning of home.

Eliza Wheeler’s book tells the story of what happens when six-year-old Marvel, her seven siblings, and their mom must start all over again after their father has died. Deep in the woods of Wisconsin they find a tar-paper shack. It doesn’t seem like much of a home, but they soon start seeing what it could be. During their first year it’s a struggle to maintain the shack and make sure they have enough to eat. But each season also brings its own delights and blessings–and the children always find a way to have fun. Most importantly, the family finds immense joy in being together, surrounded by nature. And slowly, their little shack starts feeling like a true home–warm, bright, and filled up with love.

Read reviews at Miss Marple’s Musings and Leslie Leibhardt Goodman’s blog.

 

Home Is a Window

Author: Stephanie Parsley Ledyard

Illustrator: Chris Sasaki

Publisher/Date: Neal Porter Books, an imprint of Holiday House Publishing/2019

Ages: 4-7

Themes: home, family, moving

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

A family learns what home really means, as they leave one beloved residence and make a new home in another.

Home can be many things—a window, a doorway, a rug…or a hug. At home, everything always feels the same: comfortable and safe.

But sometimes things change, and a home must be left behind.

Follow a family as they move out of their beloved, familiar house and learn that they can bring everything they love about their old home to the new one, because they still have each other. This heartfelt picture book by Stephanie Parsley Ledyard is richly illustrated by former Pixar animator Chris Sasaki.

Read a review at Kirkus Reviews.

I paired these books because they explore the concept of home. Based on the life of author-illustrator Wheeler’s grandmother, Home in the Woods follows a mother and her children who relocate to a shack in the woods when they lose their home during the Great Depression. In Home is a Window, a mixed-race family relocates from a beloved home in the city to a new house in the suburbs. Both books make clear that home is a place where one’s loving family lives & shares happy times together, and even, as in times like these, finds safety and security.

 

 

 

Perfect Pairing – of Picture Books about African-American Migrations

In small numbers, while slavery held sway in the southern states, and in large numbers, in the early to mid-twentieth century, African Americans headed north. Today’s pairing explores these journeys:

Before She Was Harriet

Author: Lesa Cline-Ransome

Illustrator: James E. Ransome

Publisher/Date: Holiday House Publishing, Inc./2017

Ages: 4-8

Themes: biography, African-American history, women’s history, slavery, underground railroad

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

A lush and lyrical biography of Harriet Tubman, written in verse and illustrated by an award-winning artist.
We know her today as Harriet Tubman, but in her lifetime she was called by many names. As General Tubman she was a Union spy. As Moses she led hundreds to freedom on the Underground Railroad. As Minty she was a slave whose spirit could not be broken. An evocative poem and opulent watercolors come together to honor a woman of humble origins whose courage and compassion make her larger than life.
A Junior Library Guild Selection

Read a review at Kirkus Reviews.

Overground Railroad

Author: Lesa Cline-Ransome

Illustrator: James E. Ransome

Publisher/Date: Holiday House/2020

Ages: 4-8

Themes: African-American history, the Great Migration, moving, train journey

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Ruth Ellen’s odyssey on the New York Bound Silver Meteor is the start of a new life up North that she can’t begin to imagine in this gorgeously illustrated picture book.

In poems, illustrated with collage art, a perceptive girl tells the story of her train journey from North Carolina to New York City as part of the Great Migration. Each leg of the trip brings new revelations as scenes out the window of folks working in fields give way to the Delaware River, the curtain that separates the colored car is removed, and glimpses of the freedom and opportunity the family hopes to find come into view.

Overground Railroad offers a window into a child’s experience of the Great Migration from the award-winning creators behind Finding LangstonBefore She was HarrietBenny Goodman & Teddy Wilson, and Just a Lucky So and So.

Read my review.

I paired these books because they recount two eras of black migration from the south to northern states. In Before She Was Harriet, Cline-Ransome recounts the life of the most famous of the underground railroad conductors, Harriet Tubman. In Overground Railroad, Cline-Ransome recounts the fictional story of a young girl and her family who flee the poverty and segregation of the 20th century south to find a better life in the north. Reading these books together shows how these journeys were similar quests to find freedom, from the bondage of slavery and the bondage of the sharecropping system, poverty, and segregation.

 

 

PPBF – Overground Railroad

I was fortunate enough to meet today’s Perfect Picture Book author at a Highlights Foundation course last summer. I had read many of her picture books and her middle grade debut, Finding Langston, so when I saw this new picture book, I knew that I had to feature it here.

Title: Overground Railroad

Written By: Lesa Cline-Ransome

Illustrated By: James Ransome

Publisher/Date: Holiday House/2020

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: African-American history, the Great Migration, moving, train journey

Opening:

Some walked./ Some drove./ But we took the train north./ Me and Mama and Daddy got to the station/ crack of dawn early before anyone/ could see us leave./ Daddy holding tight/ to me with one hand/ three tickets to New York in the other.

Brief Synopsis:

A young African-American girl recounts her family’s 1939 journey from a sharecropping shack in North Carolina to New York City.

Links to Resources:

  • Have you ever moved to a new city or town? How did you feel about moving? What did you miss most from your prior home? What did you like best about your new neighborhood?
  • Learn about the migration of African-Americans from the rural south to northern cities in the US from World War I through 1960 in what has been termed the Great Migration;
  • How is the journey described in Overground Railroad the same as, or different from, the journeys of refugees, migrants, and those seeking to travel north from Central America to the United States today?

Why I Like this Book:

In free verse poetry, Cline-Ransome relates the story of one family’s journey from a sharecropping shack in rural North Carolina to The Promised Land, New York City. Narrated by young Ruth Ellen, readers experience the train ride north from her perspective. We see Ruth Ellen saying tearful goodbyes to extended family, passing time playing cards and reading, noting the change in scenery, and especially seeing the “whites only” sign removed as the train chugged from the segregated south to the relative freedom of the north.

Although Overground Railroad is a work of fiction, Cline-Ransome ties Ruth Ellen’s story to that of others making the same journey by, for instance, noting the crowded “colored” car and how many more joined the journey at each stop. She also ties it back to the journeys that slaves made along the Underground Railroad by placing the autobiography of Frederick Douglass, a gift from her teacher, in her hand and having her remark on the Chesapeake and the Delaware River, important waterways for slaves seeking freedom.

I think Overground Railroad will be an important addition to schools, libraries, and homes, especially with the Author’s Note, in which Cline-Ransome places the migration in context, and notes that this story was “inspired by just one of the many stories of people who were running from and running to at the same time…” I also think the story will appeal to younger children, who can focus merely on Ruth Ellen’s journey, and older children, who can use this picture book as a springboard to learn more about the Great Migration.

For me, who, as regular readers know, usually focuses on international migration, I think Overground Railroad will be a useful tool to compare and contrast the myriad human migrations occurring today to this period in our American history when millions of blacks fled the poverty and violence of the sharecropping system and segregation, seeking a better life for themselves and their families in the North.

Using graphite, paste pencils, watercolors, and collage, Ransome created stunning full-spread illustrations. I especially liked the scene showing so many people scrambling to board the train, and two spreads showing first, young Frederick Douglass alone in a dark forest lit by the North Star, and a few spreads later, young Ruth Ellen arriving in New York City, with a “sky/bright as a hundred North Stars.”

A Note about Craft:

As always, a journey related from the first-person point-of-view resonates with me and brings an immediacy to the story.

As Cline-Ransome admits in the Author’s Note, she hadn’t heard the term “overground railroad” to describe the Great Migration until recently. To help explain this little-known term, she has created a fictional narrator, an Every Child, so to say, through whom readers can experience this life-altering journey. But in addition to this focus, Cline-Ransome has added details which tie this journey to that of millions more and also to the Underground Railroad that preceded it.

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

PPBF – A Map into the World

I saw today’s Perfect Picture Book on one of the many “best of” lists that have begun popping up these past few weeks. When I read the reviewer’s description and the synopsis, I just had to read, and review, it!

Title: A Map into the World

Written By: Kao Kalia Yang

Illustrated By: Seo Kim

Publisher/Date: Carolrhoda Books, an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group/2019

Suitable for Ages: 5-9

Themes/Topics: Hmong, seasons, maps, moving, death, intergenerational, new siblings, immigrant, #OwnVoices

Opening:

The first time we saw the swing and the slide and the garden of the green house with the big windows, my mother sat down in a chair in the backyard and said she did not want to get up. Tais Tais and I looked at the garden, and she pointed out tomatoes, green beans, and a watermelon round as my mother’s belly.

Brief Synopsis: When the narrator, Paj Ntaub, and her family move to a new house, she experiences the seasons and the phases of life, including birth and death.

Links to Resources:

Why I Like this Book:

A Map into the World follows the narrator, Paj Ntaub, as she adjusts to life in a new home and the arrival of twin baby brothers. But even as life is beginning in Paj Ntaub’s house, an elderly neighbor passes away, leaving her husband of over 60 years alone. How does this sensitive young narrator deal with these three big changes? Frankly any one of them on its own would be difficult for any person, let alone a young child, to process.

But young Paj Ntaub is observant. She notes the changes in nature, and she takes comfort in the Hmong story cloth that graces her new home and tells the story of how her family had left its homeland in southeast Asia. Bringing these threads together, she draws a map to show her neighbor how he can navigate the loss of his lifelong partner and find joy in the world once again.

I love the sensitivity exhibited by young Paj Ntaub, and I love how immigrant culture provides a way for the elderly neighbor, a non-immigrant, to process his grief.

A Map into the World is a perfect read for anyone dealing with a life-changing occurrence and for anyone interested in learning more about Hmong culture.

With soft yellows and greens, Kim’s nature-filled illustrations created with “digital graphite, pastels, watercolor, and scanned handmade textures” render a soothing setting for the story and are a gentle reminder that life is filled with seasons of beginnings and endings.

A Note about Craft:

Per an end note, A Map into the World is based upon the author’s actual neighbors, Ruth and Bob, and the author’s own family. She also is an #OwnVoices writer, familiar with Hmong culture and, presumably, problem-solving. I love how she uses aspects of this culture to problem solve and uses the metaphor of a map as a means to adapt to difficult life changes. This is her first picture book.Visit Yang’s website to see more of her books.

Visit Kim’s website to view more of her illustrations.

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

Perfect Pairing – of Picture Books about New Homes

Moving house is such a difficult transition for adults and kids, so when I found two recent picture books about moving, I just had to pair them!

Ella Who?

Author: Linda Ashman

Illustrator: Sara Sanchez

Publisher/Date: Sterling Children’s Books/2017

Ages: 4-8

Themes: moving, making friends

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Mom . . . there’s an elephant in the living room.
It’s moving day—and look who slipped in the door: an elephant! But when a little girl tries to tell her family about their unusual guest, the distracted grown-ups just say, “Ella WHO?” Even as children giggle at the girl’s adventures with the smallish pachyderm, and at the fun, recurring refrain, they’ll relate to the poignant theme about making—and sometimes letting go of—new friends.

Read a review at Gathering Books.

 

Wallpaper

Author & Illustrator: Thao Lam

Publisher/Date: Owlkids Books, a division of Bayard, Canada/2018

Ages:  3-7

Themes: moving, making friends, fantasy, courage

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

New from the creator of Skunk on a String comes Wallpaper, a wordless picture book in Thao Lam’s signature paper collage style. It tells the story of a young girl whose family moves into a new house. Outside, she can hear other kids playing, but she’s too shy to say hello. So she picks at the old wallpaper in her room―revealing an entryway to a fantastic imaginary adventure world behind the walls.

Read my review.

I paired these books because they both feature main characters who are in the process of moving into a new home. In Ella Who? the unnamed main character finds a baby elephant among the boxes and potted plants, but her family is unable to see this new friend. In the wordless Wallpaper, the unnamed main character uncovers worlds hiding beneath the wallpaper in her new bedroom. Both books address the desire of children who have recently moved to find friendship in their new neighborhoods with fantasy and fun.

PPBF – Wallpaper

I discovered today’s Perfect Picture Book while reading a blog post at Gathering Books. The title and cover intrigued me, and, luckily, I was able to obtain a copy through the interlibrary loan network (what would we do without it!).

Title: Wallpaper

Written & Illustrated By: Thao Lam

Publisher/Date: Owlkids Books, a division of Bayard Canada/2018

Suitable for Ages: 4-7

Themes/Topics: moving, making friends, fantasy, courage

Opening:

Blah-blah, blah-blah-blah, blah-blah

Brief Synopsis: In this virtually wordless picture book, a young girl struggling to adapt to a new home and neighborhood discovers a fantastical world hidden under the wallpaper of her new bedroom.

Links to Resources:

  • Sometimes we all feel shy or afraid. What scares you? What do you do when you’re scared or feeling shy?
  • Design a wallpaper pattern for your bedroom;
  • Create a collage with wallpaper scraps.

Why I Like this Book:

Moving is one of the more difficult transitions anyone can undertake. And for a shy person, as the unnamed main character in Wallpaper undoubtedly is, it’s even more difficult. When she notices children playing in a tree house near her window and waving at her, the poor girl is too shy or frightened to wave back. Instead, she enters a world that she uncovers hidden within layers of wallpaper in her new bedroom. There she discovers a monster. A lively chase entails until the young girl discovers that if a monster can be a friend, perhaps the children in her new neighborhood can be friends, too.

Because it’s virtually wordless, Wallpaper will be a wonderful read together story that creates an opportunity to discuss overcoming the fear of something that is unknown or different, including moving to a new home, neighborhood and school. For those who haven’t experienced a move, it hopefully will help them empathize with new neighbors and classmates and welcome them.

Illustrated with bright, intricate collages, Wallpaper invites readers to marvel at what may lie hidden below the surface of wherever they may find themselves.

A Note about Craft:

I’m not an illustrator, and I’m always in awe of the emotions an illustrator can evoke via pictures. By limiting the text to a few sounds only, I think Lam enables readers to tell the story via their own words, and perhaps, in doing so, share what’s troubling them.

Visit Lam’s website to view more of her work.

Owlkids Books is a Canadian publisher that “publishes entertaining, unique, high-quality books and magazines that nurture the potential of children and instill in them a love of reading and learning — about themselves and the world around them.”

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

 

Perfect Pairing – Thinks about Spring Flowers

It’s my eldest daughter’s birthday today, so to celebrate, I thought I’d give her flowers, or more precisely, share two picture books with greenery and blossoms at their heart.

Florette

Author & Illustrator: Anna Walker

Publisher/Date: Clarion Books/2018

Ages: 4-8

Themes: gardening; nature in urban areas; moving; friendship

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

When Mae’s family moves to a new home, she wishes she could bring her garden with her. She’ll miss the apple trees, the daffodils, and chasing butterflies in the wavy grass. But there’s no room for a garden in the city. Or is there?

Read a review at Design of the Picture Book .

 

The Seeds of Friendship

Author & Illustrator: Michael Foreman

Publisher/Date: Candlewick Press/2015

Ages:  4-8

Themes: gardening; nature in urban areas; moving; friendship; immigrant

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Adam felt alone in the strange, new city. He missed the colours and friendships of his faraway home. But when a teacher at school gives him a few seeds, she plants an idea in him – an idea that could transform his grey world forever. Michael Foreman’s beautifully-illustrated story is a powerful fable of how friendship can grow in our world.

Read a review at Kirkus Reviews.

I paired these books because they both feature children who have moved to gray urban spaces and who strive to bring nature’s greenery to the city. In Florette, Mae draws trees on empty moving boxes, races to visit pebble-covered parks, and then rescues a small sprout from outside a florist shop window. From that sprout, she grows both a garden and finds friends. In The Seeds of Friendship, Adam, a young immigrant, seeks to adapt to life in a cold, gray city. When a teacher gifts him some seeds, he grows a rooftop garden, bringing color to the city and finding friends. I especially liked how both books depict nature-loving children who persevere to bring what they love to their new homes.

Looking for similar reads?

See A Piece of Home.

PPBF – My Name is Not Refugee

According to news reports I’ve read, more travelers will be on the road and in the skies in the US than ever before this Thanksgiving weekend, traveling to celebrate the holiday with family and friends. But as we celebrate, I think it’s important to remember those that travel for different reasons, including the boy and his mother in today’s Perfect Picture Book.

Title: My Name is Not Refugee

Written & Illustrated By:  Kate Milner

Publisher/Date: The Bucket List (an imprint of Barrington Stoke/2017)

Suitable for Ages: 5 and under

Themes/Topics: refugees; moving; empathy

Opening:

We have to leave this town, my mother told me, it’s not safe for us, she said. Shall I tell you what it will be like?

Brief Synopsis: Step by step, a mother explains to her young son that they are leaving the home they know because it isn’t safe and traveling to a new place where they’ll have to learn a new language, eat different foods, and otherwise adapt.

Links to Resources:

  • Describe or draw a journey or walk you’ve taken;
  • Find many more activities in the Teacher Toolkit;
  • Try one or more of the 20 Simple Acts to learn more about refugees or help one or more of them feel welcome in your school or community.

Why I Like this Book:

In simple, child-friendly sentences, a mother explains to her young son their upcoming journey and what they may find in their new home. Unlike many picture books about the refugee experience, Milner mentions and shows the unsafe home the pair leave, but there is no mention of death, soldiers or bombs. She thus leaves it to a child’s imagination, or the answer of a caregiver or teacher, to explain why there’s no running water and why there’s garbage everywhere. The adult reading with a child then can tailor the answer to the comprehension level of that child.

In addition to his mother’s reassurances, the young boy finds comfort in a stuffed animal that he carries in most spreads. I think younger children will relate to this, and find it reassuring as well. For the youngest of listeners, they may even want to search the pages to find the beloved item.

On the right-side page of most spreads, Milner addresses the reader, asking direct questions that are highlighted in blue boxes. From “what would you take,” to “how far could you walk,” and “what is the weirdest food you have ever eaten,” Milner invites readers to journey along with the unnamed refugees, to better understand their journeys and build empathy.

Milner uses pencil drawings and lots of white space to engage readers in the refugee experience. And by not showing a specific region or including details that could indicate that the refugees practice a particular religion, she universalizes the experience: anyone could be a refugee.

A Note about Craft:

Although the main character is a child, he relates the story as told to him by his mother. The reader thus experiences the journey through the mother’s perspective, too, which, in my mind, provided a reassurance missing from many refugee stories.

The inclusion of direct questions helps an adult reader tailor story-time to particular children, I think. To stick to the narrative, an adult reading aloud can skip a question or all questions, or s/he can stop and explore the main character’s experiences and discover how they may relate to the experiences of children listening.

My Name is Not Refugee is the winner of the Klaus Flugge Prize, which “celebrates the most exciting newcomer to children’s book illustration.” Milner won the V&A Student Illustrator of the Year in 2016 for My Name is Not Refugee.

See more of Kate Milner’s work on her website. Read an interview with Milner about her reason for writing My Name is Not Refugee and learn about her illustration techniques at Library Mice.

Edinburg-based, independent publisher Barrington Stoke is the “home of super-readable books” and aims to publish books for children with dyslexia and reluctant readers.

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

 

PPBF – Me and My Fear

When I saw today’s Perfect Picture Book advertised, I couldn’t wait to find, read  and review it. I hope you find it as captivating as I did!

MeandMyFear_RGB-644x728

Title: Me and My Fear

Written & Illustrated By: Francesca Sanna

Publisher/Date: Flying Eye Books (an imprint of Nobrow Ltd.)/September 2018

Suitable for Ages: 5+

Themes/Topics: fear; immigrant; moving; empathy

Opening:

I have always had a secret. A tiny friend called Fear.

Brief Synopsis:

When a young girl and her family arrive in a new country, the girl’s fear grows and keeps her from making friends and adjusting to her new life, until she realizes that she’s not the only one with fear.

Links to Resources:

  • Sometimes we all are afraid. What scares you? What do you do when you’re scared?
  • How do you welcome newcomers to your neighborhood or school? Try one or more of the 20 Simple Acts to learn more about refugees or help one or more of them feel welcome;
  • See the Classroom Guide for more ideas.

Why I Like this Book:

With warm, retro-feeling illustrations and short text, Sanna personifies the fear that everyone experiences at times in a very kid-relatable way. As the story begins, Fear is a “tiny friend”, a helpful being that keeps the unnamed MC safe. But after “we came to this new country,” Fear grows and keeps the girl from experiencing the new neighborhood and making friends at school. It’s Fear that “hates” the new school, that “grows angry” when the girl’s name is mispronounced, that keeps the girl alone at break times. Through sharing art with another student, though, the young girl begins to reach out and then discovers that others have their own fears. As she does so, Fear reverts to its old, smaller self as “school is not so difficult anymore”.

I think Me and My Fear will help kids who experience fear in unfamiliar situations understand that they aren’t alone. It also will help other kids empathize with newcomers or those who keep to themselves, when they understand that it may be fear that holds these loners back. While the young MC is a newcomer to a country and school, I think the story will resonate with others, too, as they face any new situations.

Sanna’s warm color palate and the rounded curves she uses to depict Fear exude a feeling of comfort.

A Note about Craft:

As in her debut picture book, The Journey, Sanna has chosen to not name the Main Character, thus providing an Everyman-type of story. She also uses first-person point of view which, I think, brings an immediacy to the story. Interestingly, the MC in Me and My Fear is the same MC as in The Journey, so that this book is, in effect, a continuation of the refugee’s journey.

An illustrator-author, Sanna tells much of the story in illustrations only, and it’s a low word-count picture book. Sanna pictures Fear as a ghost-like creature, similar, in my mind, to Beekle, in Dan Santat’s The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend. By making Fear a character, Sanna can show readers how Fear accompanies the young girl, demonstrate how it grows, and even, in one full-page spread, show how the MC must carry Fear on her back.

When I first read the title, Me and My Fear, I was a bit perplexed. Wouldn’t “I and My Fear,” or “My Fear and Me” be more grammatically correct? But then it struck me: the title hearkens back to an old song title: Me and My Shadow. It thus puts the MC’s experience into context: Fear has accompanied people throughout history and in many places, and it continues to do so.

From the publisher’s website, I learned that Me and My Fear “is based on research that creator Francesca Sanna did in classrooms—asking children to draw their fears and encouraging them to talk about what made them afraid.” I also learned that Amnesty International has endorsed it.

The publisher, Flying Eye Books (FEB, for short),  “is the children’s imprint of award-winning visual publishing house Nobrow. Established in early 2013, FEB sought to retain the same attention to detail in design and excellence in illustrated content as its parent publisher, but with a focus on the craft of children’s storytelling and non-fiction.”

Visit Sanna’s website to see more of her work, including illustrations from The Journey, one of the first picture books to shed light on the current refugee crisis in Europe.

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!