Me and My Fear - by Francesca Sanna

It was finally the first day of school today for us as well, and although we didn't do much preparation per se to the event, I decided to buy this book (it just came out on September 1st) by Italian author and illustrator Francesca Sanna, because I knew that it would instantly resonate with my daughter.
The girl in the book (who we call, stroke of genius, Francesca:) moved to another country and started a new school, she doesn't speak the language at first and the settling in is difficult.
Her fear is depicted as a white koala-like creature mostly clinging on to her back and affecting her freedom of movement as she grows in size or gets smaller depending on the situation and which looks like a koala to me, as he is 
As Francesca slowly settles into the community, Fear becomes a manageable, polite friend, and she also finds out that everyone else lives with some sort of fear.
The winning point of the story is that the girl's emotions are depicted as a tangible, visible entity: this makes it more grounded and understandable to young children, and less negative and gloomy at the same time. Although Fear is annoying at times, she looks more like a cute, mischievous puppy needing some training.
Fear is also a matter of safety:
'Fear has always looked after me and kept me safe'
and that's a very good point which has aroused my daughter's interest. The sense of fear keeps us away from danger when kept at a healthy level, which is somehow an interesting idea to remind children about.
A therapeutic read with a bittersweet end, and the comforting finding that we all live with our own pet-Fear.
And that’s ok.

We read this book once in the past days and this morning before she left, as she really wasn't happy to go back to school, ending her summer holidays. I think it helped to realise that her friends were probably feeling the same in that exact moment, although for slightly different reasons.

I don't always like books that encourage children to overthink about negative emotions, I think they are only good if there is actually something going on, and I tend not to overdo with preparation stuff: I think parents can become (with the best intentions) quite obsessive with getting kids ready for 'big events', thus increasing their anxiety.
However, Me and my Fear is a truly delicate book, not too simple, not too complicated, just right to talk about all children's most familiar emotion.

Italian readers hang in there, the Italian edition is coming soon;)
Me and my Fear [1st September 2018, available here ]
Words & Art by Francesca sanna
English-language edition published by Flying Eye Books
Reading age: 4+
Themes: Dealing with emotions, Identity, Growing up

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