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Reviewed by Carola Crawford, English teacher, Karanga Mai Young Parents’ College
Opening sentence
I know a child called Aroha, warm of heart, broad of smile, dark of hair, wild as wind, from the great Southern Isle.
This book is a lyrical description of how a child might deal with the negative feelings of anxiety and self-criticism. It is not a story, although there is action as Aroha moves through a New Zealand landscape experiencing a range of emotions. The illustrations help to alleviate what could have been just a didactic list of various emotional states and possible solutions. The kōwhai, pīwakawaka, tuī and the sea take prominence and encourage us to see Nature as a nurturing force and on our side.

This is a useful guide to share with an individual child or a group to help young children deal with the uncomfortable feelings of self doubt and anxiety. Mental health is a huge issue in our society, with one of the highest suicide rates in the world, so anything we can do to help children with strategies to deal with negative thoughts must be applauded. Because this book doesn’t directly address them, but is about Aroha, children are able to consider these ideas in a non-threatening way.
Author & Illustrator: Rebekah Lipp, Craig Phillips
Publisher: Wildling Books
ISBN: 9780473470807
Format: Picture book
Publication: April 2020
Ages: 3+ years