David & Charles Children’s Books
This one first caught my eye because I heard the author speak recently and she seemed just lovely. But the book definitely stands on its own merits. In fact I love it.
Izzy is a cool wee girl who thinks she is scared of things but has a toy skunk puppet called Skunk who isn’t.
Why is it so good?
Well first of all I think Izzy is cool. Not a pink ribbon in sight and quite unselfconscious that her best friend is a skunk. Secondly, I like the fact that Skunk is always referred to as a real friend but always clearly shown as a puppet. The clear message here is about how, from the outset, Izzy has all the courage she needs, she just doesn’t realise it. I don’t know if it’s a usual thing for little girls but at the moment my four year old is going through a phase of being afraid of everything (including things of which she was totally unafraid just last week) so this message is both pertinent and timely in this house.
The events of the book are as simple and as epic as all events in the lives of small kids. I like that their importance is never underplayed as things that seem trivial to an adult can have massive significance to a child that age. The illustrations have a beautifully fresh simplicity. I particularly like that there is one thing mentioned of which both Izzy and Skunk are afraid, after all everyone is afraid of something.
Ultimately though this is an empowering tale which will resonate with many children.
And in school?
This book would be a great place to start for a puppet aided discussion about fears. For example each child takes a turn with a puppet who ‘whispers in their ear’ about something they are afraid of. This level of remove can mean kids are more willing to share their fears. There can then follow a discussion on irrational (what could a tiny spider actually do?) versus rational fears (what could happen if you are messing about near a high ledge) and ways to deal with them. Students can give advice to the puppet – again the level of remove providing a good safety buffer.
Personally I think a good book with a strong girl who is not blonde, pink clad or a princess as the central character is a good addition to a class library. Izzy also has truly great hair 😀