Updated: Oct 31, 2022
For Welsh review, see language toggle switch*
(suggested) reading age: 5+
(suggested) interest age: 3-7
Genre: #fiction #empathy #bilingual
♥Children's Book of the Month, September 2022♥
This is a heart-warming story about a young girl who manages to do one of the hardest things possible: a difference.
Erin finds the winter snow very beautiful, but she also feels the cold. That's because her parents don't have enough money to heat the house. Even though they don't have much, one thing they do have plenty of is love. (Which according to the Beatles, is all you need!) Unfortunately, though, as the family soon find out, love doesn't pay the bills, and they are forced leave their home and familiar surroundings and move to the other end of the city to what appears to be a tower block.
The change comes as a bit of a shock to Erin, and she feels lonely and lost. She feels so hopeless and unimportant that she begins disappearing before our eyes. It’s only when she becomes ‘invisible’ that she notices all the other invisible people out and about around new home.
The unseen and the unwanted
But who are these people? Well, they are the people who have been pushed to the fringes of our society – the poor, the elderly, immigrants, the homeless. Anyone who doesn't fit in or 'belong' to what society as a whole considers normal. They are often ignored and forgotten.
This is why Tom Percival's idea of turning invisible works so well as a metaphor to convey how we fail to see certain things, choose not to notice, or turn our backs completely. Just think- how many times have you walked past a sleeping person in front of a shop door? Did you stop to say hello or did you walk on by?
Beauty is all around
Although her new home seems bleak on the surface, Erin manages to discover beauty hiding everywhere around her. It’s only then, that she decides she's going to do something to help, so she goes about planting flowers and doing odd-jobs around the place.
Speaking of beauty, the illustrations are very special. It starts off cold and grey, and gradually the colour returns and grows as the community comes to life. Indeed, the last spread pf pages is bursting with colour and warmth. Erin's efforts to improve her local area catches on, and the community soon comes together to improve their locality.
Making a difference
The message of the book is powerful— you don’t need grand gestures to make a difference, but small acts of kindness can make a big impact. I hope the book will show children that money and wealth are not a measure of their value, and that showing kindness and compassion is far more important.
The story's origins come from the author's first-hand experience of living in a caravan at a young age. He shares his experiences of poverty in a thought-provoking note at the back of the book. He is keen to draw attention to those who are less fortunate than us in society, but no less important.
According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, almost 15 million adults live in poverty in the UK, including 4.3 million children. With costs and bills rising every day, this is not something that is about to disappear. Inequality will continue, no doubt. Poverty can often be a taboo subject and we seem reluctant to discuss it openly, perhaps due to lack of understanding, embarrassment or shame. This book is the perfect opportunity to start a conversation, in an empathetic way, with young children.
No matter who or where we are in life, we should show some love and respect to each other, offering support to those who have fallen on hard times– you never know when you’ll need a helping hand yourself...