Me and My Fear

illus. by Francesca Sanna. 40p. Flying Eye. Sept. 2018. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781911171539.
RedReviewStarPreS-Gr 2—A young girl has always lived with her "tiny friend called Fear"—depicted in Sanna's expressive illustrations as a small, shy-looking white blob—a constant companion who has always looked after her and kept her safe. However, since the child's arrival in a new country, "Fear isn't so little anymore." In fact, Fear grows large enough to fill a room and begins to dominate every aspect of her life. Fear doesn't want the child to go to school, becomes angry when the teacher mispronounces her name, and keeps her isolated from the other students at recess. In the artwork, Fear, now-giant sized and smug-looking, wraps herself around the child and holds her tight, a marshmallow buffer between the girl and the rest of the world. "I feel more and more lonely every day. Fear says it's because no one likes me. Well, I don't like it here." Everything changes when a boy reaches out a hand in friendship, and reveals that he too has "a secret fear"—in fact, everyone does. The pastel-hue illustrations provide visual representation of an abstract concept and facilitate understanding and discussion. Authentic and immediate, the first-person narration draws in readers and reveals just how easily fear can become overwhelming and isolating, but can also be controlled when feelings are shared and through comfort found in friendship.
VERDICT Like Sanna's The Journey, this book about an immigrant's experiences tackles a tough topic with honesty, empathy, and a sense of hopefulness. A must-purchase.

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