The Greatest ShowPenguin
32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99
Poppy the Penguin comes from a long line of circus performers. Many skills have been passed down from penguin to penguin. However, Poppy soon decides that performing in the family circus is not for her as she prefers to feel calm and in control. But the hardest thing is not juggling, or riding a unicycle – it’s telling her mum that she doesn’t want to perform any more. The bravery is worth it when Poppy discovers a better role – organising and coordinating the whole show. And what a show it turns out to be!
So often, we, as parents, lead our children down the path of learning the things we like to do and expecting them to love them with a similar passion. But it can be a road fraught with danger because our children always see us as the experts and that somehow they are never going to be quite good enough, which can lead to mental health and self-esteem issues. Even though Poppy is very good as a performer and her parents are really proud of her, deep down inside she knows that the limelight is not for her and luckily she not only has the courage but also the relationship with her parents to express her unhappiness. Perhaps sharing this story might be the catalyst for our students to have similar conversations if they feel they have the need.
Freegard also brings up another element that often rears its head, particularly during class performances – that of “job snob”. How often is the lead in the school play sought by the class’s leading light and both child and parents celebrate their celebrity? Yet, as Poppy shows, the whole show cannot go on without those backstage workers, the support cast and everyone else who helps to make it happen. Here is a great opportunity to demonstrate that no job is better or more important than another – they are just different and without one, others will flounder. The school cannot function without all the admin staff making it easier for the teachers to do their thing.
Some big life lessons in one little book!