Friday 26 April 2019

ReadItDaddy's Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 26th April 2019: "Brave Molly" by Brooke Boynton-Hughes (Chronicle Children's Books)

What an amazing Book of the Week this week! A real wow and no mistake.

But first, let's talk for a moment about the power of (almost) wordless picture books. Sometimes it's very difficult for books to address a particular issue in a language that's simple enough, but not patronising, for children to absorb and identify with.

When it comes to the issues in "Brave Molly" by Brooke Boynton-Hughes, the immensely talented author-illustrator has opted to use an entirely visual way of talking about anxiety and it's one that works so amazingly well, you'll wonder why no one's thought of doing anything like this before.

Any anxiety suffers, young or old, will immediately be able to identify and decode this story of a young girl who sees monsters lurking outside whenever she looks wistfully out of her window.

But what do you do when no one can see your monsters but you? 

That's exactly what it's like when you try to explain to people what anxiety feels like, how it affects your life - and can sometimes stop you doing the things you really want to do. 

When you want to go out, but your anxiety takes a monstrous form...

At first, Molly runs from the monsters. But they follow her down the sidewalk, getting in the way when she tries to make a new friend, popping up unexpectedly out of shadows, and multiplying. 

Perfect visual metaphors for the struggles of anxiety and self doubt. 

Until finally...Molly faces her fears head on and confronts them - which is sometimes the only way to deal with monsters (and anxiety, of course). 

Brooke has created a perfect visual metaphor for the manifestation of our worries and fears in her insidious monsters that lurk around every corner. The artwork in this is truly stunning, like a cross between Garen Ewing's gorgeous dot-eye style, and a smidge of Anthony Browne's surreal storyscapes as well.

There is a single word in this book, and that moment ends up being one of the most powerful moments in a story that is full of them. I think there's a tiny concern that some of the scenes might be a bit too much for younger readers but it's certainly the sort of book that - even though it's wordless - a parent and child can curl up with and work through together. In fact that's probably the best way to read this one. 

We can't recommend this one highly enough though, it nails the feelings around shyness, anxiety and agoraphobia perfectly.

OH and by the way...there's one last surprise waiting for you if you get the hardback edition of this book. Just slide that slip cover off once you've finished the book. Isn't that a lovely, lovely touch?

Sum this book up in a sentence: A book that we've been waiting for, perfectly picturing and relating what it feels like to be an anxiety sufferer, and what it truly means to be brave and confront your fears. 

"Brave Molly" by Brooke Boynton-Hughes is out now, published by Chronicle Children's Books (kindly supplied for review)