Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Worry Angels by Sita Brahmachari, Illus Jane Ray

Reviewer: Catriona Troth

What We Thought:

My next review from the Jhalak Prize 2018 longlist is another children’s book, this time for young readers.

Two very different young girls, both facing massive life changes, are eased into their new Secondary School by the wonderful Grace Nuala and her messy colourful art house.

Amy-May’s parents have split up. Her father has gone to live in a tumbledown cottage on a remote hillside, and she’s not sure if that means he doesn’t want her any more. He’s been home schooling her up till now, but she and her mother have moved to the city, and she has to face the prospect of going to a big new school.

We stand and stare at the metal and glass building that looks more like and art gallery than a school. The outlines of hundreds of children move like ants along the corridors. “I can’t come here, mum,” I say, and turn away.

Rima’s journey has been even more difficult. She’s travelled all the way from Syria. She’s known hunger and fear, and her little brother’s leg has been crushed by a bomb. She feels guilty because she’s alive and safe, but she doesn’t want people to see her only as a refugee. She wants people to see who she is.

With the help of Grace, and the volunteer translator Iman, Amy learns that there are so many ways to talk to someone who doesn’t speak the same language as you:

With your hands, with your eyes, with pictures in the sand...You act things out... you let the feeling show in your whole body... whatever way you can to show them you want to be their friend.

Grace makes Worry Angels, little figures to represent her young charges, and when they are ready to fly up to the big school, she gives the angels their wings.

Written in clear, simple English and beautifully illustrated by Jane Ray, this would suit young readers struggling with anxiety or those learning about refugees. But equally, it would be an excellent book for slightly older children learning English as an additional language. Worry Angels is full of warmth and empathy and above all, hope.

You’ll enjoy this if you loved: Azzi In Between by Sarah Garland, The Lost and Found Cat by Doug Kuntz and Amy Shrodes

Avoid If You Dislike: Stories about family breakup or children that have undergone trauma

Perfect Accompaniment: Chocolate Cake

Genre: Children, New Readers

Available on Amazon

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