Adam Wallace, illus. Giuseppe Poli, Chatsworth, New South Wales: EK Books, hb, 978 1 9253 3578 1, 2018, £10.99, 36pp.
Picture book, fiction, 5-8 years
Jerry feels left out at school and is befriended by Molly. What he learns from their relationship encourages him to befriend Paul.
Here’s a picture book that does exactly what the publisher claims. It deftly approaches the issues around loneliness and self-confidence. Jerry feels left out in ways and on occasions that everyone –not just young readers- will recognise. Not getting picked for the team, no one laughing at his jokes, and people who wave not at him but always at someone behind him. Then along comes Molly and her friendship makes all the difference, giving him someone to share his thoughts with and boosting his self-confidence. But the story doesn’t stop there. Jerry realises that he can do for someone else exactly what Molly has done for him. And here’s Paul, whose vote never counts and who never wins the prize for best costume at the school dress up party.
Adam Wallace’s text is carefully structured and lifted by a gentle humour that will make children smile even as they empathise with Jerry, Paul and Molly. Giuseppe Poli’s illustrations convey exactly that feeling of being the only one who is unrecognised and not part of the crowd, as Jerry stands in the quiet empty shadows of the left-hand margin of a double page otherwise teeming with light, colour and movement. It’s a book that avoids preachiness and that reassures and empowers its readers.