Tag Archives: Nadiya Hussain

Today I’m Strong by Nadiya Hussain & Ella Bailey

Today I’m Strong by Nadiya Hussain & Ella Bailey


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.


My Monster and Me by Nadiya Hussain and Ella Bailey

My Monster and Me by Nadiya Hussain and Ella Bailey

This adorable 32 page book about facing worries, anxiety, and fears is told in story format and meant for ages four and up. The personified monster isn’t scary, but he is big, and the little boy learns to talk about him to get him to shrink. The book is engaging, fun, and powerful. I had my teenager who has anxiety read it and she loved it, a few days later as she was forcing herself to get out of the car, she mentioned that she needed to make her monster small. Normalizing mental health, feeling like you aren’t alone, finding the words to explain to others how you feel, having empathy for those that are facing challenges, are all things the book conveys without being preachy or condescending. I think every child, parent, and caregiver, needs to be aware of what children are facing and find ways to be like the gran in the book and listen, so that children suffering aren’t doing so alone. The fact that the author is a Muslim celebrity chef in Britain and the protagonist is a boy with brown skin, makes the message that much more universal.

The book starts out with an unnamed boy introducing himself and his much bigger monster. He doesn’t know when the monster arrived, but it seems he has always been there, and the monster knows all about him.

The monster is big, and when he stands infront of the little boy, the little boy can only see his tummy. At night he snores too. When he asks his mom or dad or brother to take the monster away, the monster hides.

Over time the monster has gotten bossier. When the little boy is getting dressed or brushing his teeth or when he wants to play, the monster is always there, blocking him.

One day after school the monster was there and the little boy tried to lose it, but couldn’t. Gran asked what was wrong when he showed up crying, and the little boy told his grandma all about his monster.

Gran listened quietly and the more the little boy talks, the smaller the monster gets. Pretty soon the boy realizes he can make his monster go away. When he finds the monster later, the little monster is confused, so the boy puts him in his pocket.

The monster is always there, but the little boy can make him behave and he isn’t scary any more. At the end the boy is big, and the monster is little.

I love that the boy finds someone to talk to, and that he accepts that the monster may never leave. Even if you don’t have anxiety or worries, the book is a great metaphor that even little kids can understand to help them cope when stresses do occur. I love the large size of the book, the minimal text and the bright illustrations. Truly a great book that needs to be in classrooms and homes and anywhere kids are.