A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the interactive design of this clever encyclopedic journal of phobias and fears includes nothing inappropriate or scary, except possibly for the fears themselves. Sensitive children may need to discuss the pages with an understanding adult, but then that seems to be exactly the point and purpose of this book.
What's the story?
Little Mouse is afraid of just about everything (panaphobia), from spiders (arachnophobia) to shadows (sciaphobia) and solitude (isolophobia). Grasping her red pencil, she admits each fear as page after page of this encyclopedia/journal offers the technical name of a phobia, a quick definition, clever illustration, and space for mouse, and reader, to record reactions and feelings.
Is it any good?
LITTLE MOUSE'S (aka Emily Gravett's) BIG BOOK OF FEARS is an amazing creation. Not so much a story to be read as a springboard for discussing and imagining, it is built on a simple, down-to-earth premise brought to life through amazing illustrations and a comfortably interactive format. Immediately inside the front cover, Gravett sets out the basic tenets: "Everyone is scared of something. Living with fear can make even the bravest person feel small ... a fear faced is a fear defeated." She has managed her own fears, she says, through art and doodling, and she welcomes Little Mouse, and the reader, to do the same on the pages of her book.
Constructed much like a scrapbook or journal, the artistry of this book is outstanding and cleverly detailed. Little Mouse, who looks more like a pet white rat, scampers across tea-stained pages filled with doodles, cards, photos, and news clippings. She carries a red pencil that gets shorter, more worn, and definitely chewed on as she moves nervously through the book, recording her own fears and adding her own doodles. Pages nibbled around the edges (added by the author's daughter's pet rats) and tender, expressive drawings in muted tones of beige, brown, and red give a look that is both light-hearted and inviting.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about each of things Little Mouse is afraid of: spiders, insects, monsters, going to bed, knives, bathing, and so on. How does being afraid make her feel? What exactly makes her afraid? Does she have any real reason? What does she do about it? What fears do you have? How do you handle them? On each page, the author offers space for the reader to record his or her fear, and she encourages expression through drawing, writing, or collage-making. Do you think that might help with your fears? Do you agree that facing fears might help you overcome them?