Be Careful, Xiao Xin!
Sher Rill Ng
Working Title Press, 2022
48pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
All through the day, no matter where he is or what he is doing, Xiao Xin’s family is warning him to be careful. Even the most common things that children do like climbing on the monkey net come with warnings and commands not to do it. If ever an example of helicopter parenting were needed, this is it.
But rather than feeling loved and protected, Xiao Xin feels stifled.
They don’t understand what I can do!
They don’t understand what I can be!
For he dreams with his eyes wide open and sees himself as a Red Fire Warrior capable of doing “infinite things”. But more than that, he also sees how this constant care and concern is limiting him and his little sister.
So, when one day Xiao Xin leaves the house to prove he can be independent and safe, and doesn’t tell anyone, panic sets in, until…
Children are often the most-longed for gift, and certainly the most precious, and so it is understandable that parents want to protect them, but this deeply-layered story with its stunning illustrations which add another dimension in themselves, demonstrates that just as our children grow up, so must we and we must be willing to let them become the confident, competent, independent adults they need to be.
Written in both English and Mandarin (itself another layer of complexity), it is one that straddles all age groups as the child who hears it may well relate to Xiao Xin’s situation and the parent who reads it might also reflect on how their protectiveness and expectations might be stunting the child’s growth. I was reminded of a vignette in a recent episode of Old People’s Home for Teenagers in which a young girl who, because of parental expectations, worked hard to excel academically stumbled when presented with a problem that could not be solved by the technology in her hand. Reading a print street directory was too much of a challenge, but more concerning was her response to not being able to do so. There is a fine line and Xiao Xin not only pushes it but has the courage to cross it!
Watch for this one in awards season!