When a young immigrant girl has to travel to a new country and start at a new school, she is accompanied by her Fear who tells her to be alone and afraid, growing bigger and bigger every day with questions like “how can you hope to make new friends if you don’t understand their language?” But this little girl is stronger than her Fear.
- Title: Me and My Fear
- Author/Illustrator: Francesca Sanna
- Publisher: Flying Eye Books
- ISBN: 1911171534
- Publication Date: September 11, 2018
- For Ages: 3-7
- Category: Picture Book
- Spooky-Scary or Spooky-Fun? 🎃 Fun.
I’d like to thank Flying Eye Books for providing an advance copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Me and My Fear is a sweet, gentle story about a young girl learning to face her fears after immigrating to a new country. Written as a companion piece to Francesca Sanna’s picture book The Journey, a story about a family of refugees escaping their war-torn home, this book is both an empathetic study of a girl dealing with all of the fears and hardships of acclimating to life in a foreign country and a universal exploration of the fears that all people carry with them in their daily lives.
Sanna’s work is wise and insightful. She doesn’t portray fear as a wholly negative feeling. Often, fear is what protects us; it tells you not to do dangerous things, like leaning too far over a railing or getting too close to a group of unfriendly dogs:
It’s only when fear gets too big that it becomes an impediment. The little girl is so frightened of her new country that she can’t go outside or play with her schoolmates or even sleep at night.
She soon learns, though, that everyone has fears. A boy in her class reaches out to her, and they become friends. They share their fears, and the fear that was once so big that it took up her entire room has now shrunk back down to a manageable size. It’s still hard being so new and different, but once she realizes that everyone is dealing with their own fears and uncertainties, she feels less alone.
Sanna’s art is just as delicate and lovely as her prose. Its soothing color palette and lack of harsh outlines lends it a warm, comforting feeling that is ideal for the subject matter. It’s wonderful to see such diversity in a classroom, which underscores her message of love and empathy for new immigrants and for anyone who feels different or out of place. Also, I can’t stress enough how refreshing it is to see her depict each child’s fear as a cute, kind protector. Many books, both those aimed at children and at adults, depict fear as a villain or a monster to be conquered. Fear is a natural part of life, and it is incredibly important for children to learn that there is no shame in being afraid.
Me and My Fear is a beautifully illustrated story of learning to live with uncertainty and anxiety and to recognize the common struggle that all people have with their own fears. It is a wonderful book that anyone will appreciate, but it will be especially helpful to young immigrants, children who are afraid of moving, classes with new students who may look or sound different from many of the other children, or any kids who are struggling with fear and loneliness. I believe every classroom and library should have this warm and empathetic book, because Francesca Sanna has created a lovely, delicate reminder that when we open up and share our fears, they become much easier to carry.
This book is as beautiful as it is timely. I give it 5 out of 5 coffins.