Updated: Dec 1, 2022
*For Welsh review, see language toggle switch on top of webpage*
Illustrations: Chris Chatterton
(suggested) reading age: 6+
(suggested) interest age: 2+
Rachel Bright, the author of the hugely successful The Lion Inside, is back with another equally charming picturebook. Do you have a little worrier in your house? If so, this is an ideal book to read an enjoy, and one that will serve as a good prompt to hold a conversation about those feelings of doubt and worry that can rise to the surface from time to time.
This is a lovely, simple little story about a small dinosaur (or dragon?) who’s looking forward to an exciting adventure and a delicious picnic. But before he even gets started, the black clouds soon come to darken his day. Does he have enough food? Will he come to harm in the huge forest? All sorts of worrisome thoughts swirl around in his head.
These anxious feelings are expressed as 'butterflies' in his belly – a simple enough concept that children will be able to understand. I like that the book uses this as a metaphor to help explain and discuss emotions that can be difficult to describe. That said, you may have to be explain to the youngest children that a real butterfly isn’t about to rip itself through their bellies! (I remember reading a poem years ago about a lad called Bili Bolyn who ate too many apples – I was convinced that a tree would burst through my belly if I ate so much as a single pip!)
It’s the little dinosaur’s mother who comes to the rescue with some sound advice. I’ve lost count of the times Mam and Dad have given me words of advice and comfort when things aren’t going so well. Sometimes just being able to express your concerns and having someone there listening makes a world of difference.
We've all had them haven’t we? Strange or uncomfortable feelings in our tummies when we’re nervous. Whether it's the first day of school or moving home – any new, unexpected situations or the great unknown can give us those ‘butterflies in out stomachs.’
And you know what? Being nervous or worried about things sometimes is perfectly natural, but of course some individuals end up worrying a bit more than others. According to some figures, anxiety is increasing in children and young people, and that was before the pandemic!
This book will is an essential read for anyone with a young child who worries a lot about different things, but to be honest, we all get those feelings from time to time, so the book is suitable to read with any child. It provides the catalyst for a conversation about these feelings; how to identify them and how to try to deal with them.
As for the pictures, they are cute enough. I’ll be honest I don’t really know much about art, and I tend to either love the pictures or I don't. The use of colour is effective here, with dark colours describing the initial worries, while colours fill the pages as those feelings fade away.
For me, some of the pages feel quite 'busy' because of the inclusion of both languages, but I think that's a small price to pay for having a bilingual book. The demand for books like this is increasing, especially from non-Welsh speaking parents or those with limited Welsh skills who are keen to help their children. By offering the story in both languages, side by side, this can actually open the door for more people to further Welsh-language books.
Stressful situations are inevitable in life, and everyone will end up fretting about something at one time or another. Kids have to know that it's ok to feel this way sometimes, but that they mustn’t let those feelings control them. To use Rachel Bright’s idea- sometimes, we’ve just gotta stop holding on to our worry-butterflies and let them free!
Head on the block, I probably preferred The Lion Inside, but Y Poenisawrws is an affectionate, useful book with an important message for this day and age with nice illustrations to boot.