Great Big Softie
New Frontier, 2022
32pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99
Elliot is a GREAT BIG SOFTIE. But to fit in with the other monsters he decides to perform some MONSTROUS deeds. After scaring a little girl on her bike, he must decide whether to continue being MONSTROUS or follow his heart.
This is a charming story for young readers that focuses on being true to who you are on the inside and having the courage to be that person, rather than what others expect of you. It can be hard to resist the pull of peers but Elliot shows it can be done.
But it could also be used with older children to explore the concept of stereotypes and how people assume what others are like just based on their physical appearance. Start by getting them to draw a monster and note the similarities in the results. And perhaps, from there, investigate how advertisers perpetuate those stereotypes such as always making librarians middle-aged, hair-in-a-bun, sensible-shoes-and cardy-wearing, saying “shoosh” or putting a white coat on someone to portray a “scientific truth”. Or perhaps delve into the origins of racism…Or discrimination in general… And how it feels when you’re the one who is discriminated against.
Sometimes it is the books that seem to have the most simple, almost superficial storylines that can become the best for exploring tricky concepts.