Today, I removed a post I had made some months ago, a review for a lovely children’s book called Abigail the Whale. I got some favorable responses, and for those I was grateful. But I also got a massive quantity of spam messages. Today, regretfully, I have deleted the Abigal review to turn off the spam machine on this post. For those who really care about the book, I am re-posting the review, below.
Review: Abigail the Whale. Written by Davide Call. Art by Sonja Bougaeva. Owlkids Books
I requested this book from NetGalley because it deals with a pre-teen girl and her anxieties, particularly around her body image. I am a licensed psychotherapist, and I know from years of experience how sensitive girls of this pre-teen and early teen age can be about themselves, and their body image in particular. In the story Abigail’s swimming teacher helps her with her problems through creative visualization technique. I use this very approach–visualization and mindfulness– with my patients, so I looked forward to reading the book.
Indeed, the book offers evocative pictures and conveys the idea of Abigail gaining self-confidence through her thought processes. For that, I can highly recommend it for girls of this particular age group. Abigail is a fortunate girl, to have a caring and wise teacher to guide her. The teacher helps Abigail to learn that “we are what we think”, and urges her to “Try it!” Abigail is a bit skeptical at first, but she is a brave and adventurous girl. She tries her hand at thinking, finding key words such as “light” and “water.” She also learns that whales can do pretty amazing things, like swimming and high diving. She finds that she is actually a–SUPER WHALE!
Good for Abigail! She finds that what she thinks is important, and she can help herself with her life’s challenges. It is very empowering to people of all ages to learn the power they possess to make a difference in their lives and in the lives of others.
This is an excellent, attractive and helpful book. I highly recommend it.
My thanks to author, artist, publisher and NetGalley for making a copy of this fine book available for me to read and review. My thanks also to Allison MacLachlan of Owlkids for resolving a question I had.
Girls and boys, come out to play,
The moon doth shine as bright as day;
Leave your supper and leave your sleep,
And come with your play-fellows into the street
Play is vitally important to children. The singing game quoted above dates from at least the early 18th century, a time when most children worked all day. Here, they are exhorted to leave their supper and sleep in favor of playing in the moonlit streets.
Children have played since ancient times. There are Biblical descriptions of children playing in the streets, and of Wisdom playing in the world at the dawn of creation. In ancient Egypt, the tomb of the boy Pharaoh Tutankhamun was filled with treasure and playthings for the young King’s final journey.
Children play in the midst of war. During World War II, Anna Freud was in England, caring for children who had experienced air raids, were separated from their mothers, and had varying experiences of disruption and loss in their family lives. But Freud writes descriptions of children playing joyfully in bomb sites and throwing bricks retrieved from crumbled walls.
Children play when there is nothing to play with. Ella Lyman Cabot (1921) relates the story of settling her three-year-old daughter for an afternoon nap. Tiptoeing back an hour later, she was met with merry sounds. Mystified, she opened the door and found that the resourceful tot had removed a lacing from one of her shoes and had transformed her right foot into a spirited steed racing at great speed, controlled by shoe-string reins.
Play is essential for the child’s development. In 2011 the developmental and relational importance of play was reaffirmed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Cabot, E. L. (1921). The art of play. In Seven ages of childhood (pp. 28-39). Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company/The Riverside Press Cambridge. Retrieved from http://books.google.com.books/
Freud, A., & Burlingham, D. T. (1943). Children and war. New York: Medical War Books/ Ernst Willard.
Milteer, R. M., Ginsberg, K. R. American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Communications and Media Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health (2011). Pediatrics; originally published online December 26, 2011; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2011-2953 Retrieved at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2011/12/21/peds.2011-2953