My Monster and Me

Viking. Mar. 2021. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593350768.
PreS-Gr 1–For as long as the small brown-skinned child can remember, anxiety and panic attacks have been a constant in his life. The metaphor for this is a small, hairy, yellow creature that increases in size as the boy grows up, and becomes more demanding, too. It hides whenever anyone else is around, and then grows huge again when the boy leaves the security of home. It rules his life, not even allowing him to go outside and play with other children: “It stood in the way and wouldn’t budge.” One day, when he is overwhelmed, the distressed boy tells his grandmother about his monster and the creature is suddenly diminished; it becomes small enough to fit in the child’s pocket. What a sweet, accessible way to bring a conversation about panic attacks into a child’s understanding! Readers will see that talking about the “monster” is the path to feeling better, a lesson they could apply to other problems. Though his anxiety never goes away completely, the youngster learns to manage his feelings better. Illustrations of the furry monster are not frightening but serve as a visual manifestation of an internal disorder.
VERDICT Hussain, who won The Great British Bake Off, seems to understand children just as much as cooking, granting them a path to coping, without ever belitting the sources of their fear.

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