The Little Fear
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
When Sam lets in a little fear one night, he’s sure it won’t be any bother. But before he knows it, the fear has grown and grown and grown. Until even the sunniest of sunny days doesn’t feel very sunny any more. There’s only one thing for it. Sam must try and be a little bit brave …
It’s not so long ago that if we wanted books that addressed the mental health of our youngest readers we would be searching the shelves, possibly in vain. But with the growing recognition and understanding that the well-being of our teens and young adults begins with their ability to cope with their earliest fears – fears that all children have as they start to navigate the road to independence – then books like this are not only becoming more common but, sadly, more necessary.
Sam’s particular fear is not identified but it is given shape, form and colour so that it seems real, and that in itself is important because it acknowledges that for Sam , and other children, whatever it is is a real concern so the story has wider applicability. In Sam’s case, the fear grows so large it follows him around like a big black cloud until he decides that to be brave, he just has to put one foot in front of the other. There is no indication that he tells anyone about it or seeks adult help, so if this book is used in a class program perhaps those steps should form part of any ensuing discussion. To give the impression that something that has grown as large as it has is something the child could/should deal with alone is perhaps instilling even more anxiety especially if using Sam’s strategy doesn’t work . So while facing our own individual demons, regardless of their size, shape and colour, all of which can keep changing, is something we ultimately have to do ourselves, there needs to be a strong message that we don’t have to do it alone. So while I’d recommend it as part of your mental health collection, it is one that should be shared in the first reading.