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: