I really liked the way Nadiya Hussain’s book My Monster and Me discussed anxiety and was so eager for this book. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel as connected to the characters, the little girls dread of dealing with a bully, or the resolution of channelling her imaginary tiger to find her voice strong enough. With discussion I think the book would be a wonderful way to get young children, to open up about what is upsetting them, but on its own I feel like a bit more is needed to transition from thinking to action, from nerves to confidence, and from understanding what is bothering the little girl to understanding what needs to be done.
The story starts with a small girl going back and forth on whether she loves school or doesn’t and revealing that the tiger listens to her and doesn’t say a word. It then starts the next few pages with the same line: “I love to go to school. I do,” and detailing what parts of school make her happy.
It then transitions to sharing why some days, the little girl doesn’t like school so much. Days when her voice disappears, Molly laughs at her, or blocks her way to the climbing frame, or takes her cake.
She then reinstates that she likes going to school most day, but not always, and then one day when Molly is mean, the little girl, thinks of the tiger, and knows what to do. How to find her voice, and stand up to Molly. She then carries through on it, and realizes that soon she can be on top of the world.
The messaging is universal and great, and while there is no religion shown, it is great to see a brown protagonist dealing with mental health. The author is Muslim and I’m sure most everyone knows at least of her from the Great British Bake Off.