Little Hare, 2013
hbk., 32 pp., RRP $A24.99
Every morning Toby puts on his parachute. It’s the one thing that helps him get through his day. It helps him get out of bed in the morning, navigating that long climb from the top bunk. It helps him get off the breakfast bar stool, and the bathroom stool after he’s brushed his teeth. When you are small, such things as ladders and steps can take you high into the world of adults and it can seem a very long way down. Wherever he goes, that parachute gives him strength and courage, like a security blanket. Until he lends it to his cat Henry when Henry gets stuck up a tree and Toby, on a rescue mission and putting his cat before his fears, finds himself way up high without it.
Accompanying the story are wonderful illustrations by Matt Ottley. Using perspective to help the reader understand how Toby sees things, we can follow Toby’s growing confidence as they loom large in the beginning of the story and become more realistic as the story progresses. They also show how where we stand helps us see things in a different way. There is a big difference in seeing an elephant from the ground and then viewing it from a tree!
This is a sensitive, beautifully illustrated story of a little boy who takes the first steps from anxiety to independence. It offers reassurance for those who are straddling the chasm, wanting the security of the known on one side yet also seeking the adventure of the unknown on the other. It would have a great place in a discussion with parents or their children about making the leap to big school, perhaps encouraging them to think in advance of strategies that will help them face a situation if it arises, as well as helping the more confident think about how they deal with such things and the sorts of encouragement they can offer if a friend is struggling. Help them know how to fill their friend’s bucket of confidence rather than dipping into it.
This would be a perfect purchase to offer Foundation teachers as a read-aloud for that first week of Term 1, 2014. (Make sure you take the cover off and share it with them first – great thinking-starter!) Just magical.