Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Me and My Fear

By Francesca Sanna

Flying Eye Books     2018
40 pages     Picture Book/Children

My love affair with Francesca Sanna, her books and her illustrations, continues with Me and my Fear. Two years ago, Sanna published the outstanding book, The Journey, about refugees beginning the journey to safety. This new book, also beautifully illustrated, finds our little girl, now an immigrant, facing her fears as she reaches a new home, a new language, a new school, and no friends. Fear becomes her constant companion, and “she” (her fear) keeps growing and growing. The character, fear, is a white blob with a face. It grows and takes up the whole room, but then shrinks as the girl learns to deal with her fear. The breakthrough comes when she makes her first friend at school.

I read Me and My Fear with my granddaughter, Adela, age 7. I did have to explain to her that the white ghost-looking blob was a representation of the idea of fear. Once that was understood, Adela felt that the book was wonderful. We talked some about a girl in her class who had moved to Kalamazoo from Czechoslovakia and couldn’t speak any English. We wondered if she had the same kind of fears as the little girl in the book.

I told her that one of my current fears was falling and breaking something. I said that it was a common fear for older people. “Grandma, you’re not old!” she said. But when I asked her what her fear was, she quite surprised me by saying that she was afraid that her mommy and daddy might die and leave her and her brother alone. I told her she was experiencing  a common childhood fear, but she had a big family and if something were to happen to her parents, there would be lots of people to take care of her and her brother.

I believe that Me and My Fear is a great follow-up to The Journey. I think that it has many classroom applications, and should be used in classrooms where there are immigrant and refugee children. As with my granddaughter, some great discussion can follow for individual readers and classrooms.  The Publisher’s Weekly starred review says, “this creative depiction shows how friendship, empathy, and connection can help bring the overwhelming down to size for all.”

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