The Girl who was Scared of Everything by Emma Pascoe
Small children can have so many fears because so many things are new and unknown and there are so many possibilities of disaster and distress to be imagined. And adults too have fears, even though we may be better at hiding or avoiding that which we fear.
Elaine has many fears, fears that cause her tummy to hurt and make her feel she might cry. But she doesn’t want to miss out on all the exciting things there are to do. Being afraid of going to the zoo may make her miss out on her friend Lou’s birthday party. Elaine admits her fear to Lou, and discovers that her friend is afraid of something too! Together they decide to face their fears so they can enjoy Lou’s birthday party together. The conversation between Elaine and Lou can be extended into a conversation between child and adult reader with a page at the end where the child can list people who could be looked to for support when faced with fear and anxiety.
This gentle tale with its softly coloured and simply outlined illustrations and lilting rhyme definitely has a message for children under ten. The message is that it is not unusual to be afraid, that others have fears too and that with support we can overcome our fears and enjoy so many of life’s opportunities and experiences. Emma is a young New Zealand woman who has drawn on her own experiences of anxiety to create this story which espouses exposure therapy; the idea that it’s normal to feel anxious about things but that fears can be overcome by being brave and facing them.
This is a warm and encouraging book that provides a great springboard for a parent, a teacher or other adult to open up a conversation with children about being afraid and to begin to engage in discussion about how to deal with fears that they experience. A simple, positive and helpful book to share with children. And one that can also remind us older people that recognising our anxieties and seeking support are steps towards a healthier and happier life.
Reviewer: Clare Lyon
Little Love (Imprint of Mary Egan Publishing)