Sonya Hartnett: Blue Flower

Illustrated by Gabriel Evans

Published by Puffin Books, Penguin Random House, 2021

This is a very gentle, honest, and thoughtful picture book about not fitting in and what that feels like. It’s good to be reminded that, for some of us, life is full of challenges.

For the young girl in this story, some days just getting out of bed doesn’t feel like a good option, and making friends is not easy. Going to school requires more stamina and grit than she can imagine and feeling that her best is never enough can haunt all the hours of her day. Sometimes, all she wishes for is to be rescued from the place she should be and taken back to her comfortable home, cuddled up in bed under soft doonas with her beautiful tabby cat, quiet and peaceful. That wonderful place where the world can be shut away behind a closed door and all the failings, mistakes and challenges never faced or bravely tackled.

But life isn’t like that, even when you feel like you don’t fit in.

In this story, her mother gets to the heart of the matter. She understands the pull of hiding away and staying behind closed doors. She also acknowledges that being different can be life-changing and wonderful if you accept it:

“Being different isn’t easy, until you decide it’s a good thing to be.”

As the young girl thinks about this and wanders outside with her beloved cat Piccolo, she sees that many things in nature are different: birds, trees, clouds, and flowers. In a field of yellow flowers, there are a few blue ones too, and realisation dawns:

“No one wants everything to be the same. Things being different is what makes the world wonderful.”

So, let’s celebrate the things that makes us different and not hide our talents and gifts under doonas and behind closed doors, let’s allow all of our differences to make life more wonderful and a little easier for those of us who struggle with it.

The text by Sonya Hartnett makes this story easily accessible and the illustrations by Gabriel Evans beautifully reflect the emotional journey of figuring out how to find your place in the world. I can highly recommend this picture book for children 4-8 years and below are more suggestions for books that explore the idea of being and feeling different:

Colour Me
by Ezekiel Kwaymullina
Illustrated by Moira Court

The Glump and the Peeble
by Wendy Meddour
Illustrated by Rebecca Ashdown

Max by Bob Graham

All About Families
by Felicity Brooks
Illustrated by Mar Ferrero

All Bodies are Good Bodies
by Charlotte Barkla
Illustrated by Erica Salcedo

All Except Winston
by Rochelle Brunton
Illustrated by Nicoletta Bertelle

All Sorts by Pippa Goodhart Illustrated by Emily Rand

Brian The Brave by Paul Stewart Illustrated by Jane Porter

Egg by Sue Hendra
Illustrated by Paul Linnet

Hugo: The Boy with
the curious mark
by Yohann Devezy
Illustrated by Manuela Adreani

I Feel…Different by D.J.Corchin

My Friend Fred by Frances Watts Illustrated by A.Yi

Be Exactly Who You Are
by Laura Gehl
Illustrated by Joshua Heinsz

Chee-Kee: A Panda in Bearland
by Sujean Rim

Edward the Emu
by Sheena Knowles
Illustrated b y Rod Clement

How To Be a Lion by Ed Vere

The Story of Ferdinand
by Munro Leaf
Illustrated by Robert Lawson

Rufus by Tomi Ungerer

Antoinette by Kelly DiPucchio Illustrated by Christian Robinson

Elmer by David McKee

Stellaluna by Janell Cannon

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