Heidi Cooper Smith, Kate and the Thing, Wombat Books, 1 March 2018, 32pp., $24.99 (hbk), ISBN: 9781925563290
Childhood is a journey of challenge and change while on the search for belonging and connection. Heidi Cooper Smith’s first book shares the story of Kate who embarks on the daunting journey of starting at a new school.
As Kate anxiously begins to navigate her fear and loneliness, she discovers The Thing who is also new here. Beginning as a white character, The Thing makes every effort to lift Kate up; and takes on the colours and elements of their journey together as they go. Dancing autumn leaves and inviting musical notes are some of the elements The Thing uses to provide Kate with the courage and self-belief.
With The Thing’s comfort and energy Kate is supported in her journey, but soon begins to see less and less of Thing; though understands that Thing is never far. Thing’s support and comfort enables Kate to not only positively embrace her own journey, but to share her experience in order to support her peers. Understanding how it feels to be new and alone, Kate extends her rainbow of friendship to a new boy at school; providing him with the beginning of a sense of belonging – with his own Thing by his side to help him cope too.
Cooper Smith explains that ‘The Thing hovers between our reality and imagination’ which suggests that it is an imaginary friend which we create to target our current need. Everyone has a Thing inside of them which provides comfort, support and strength in times of need. The Thing is an effective character to share the important messages of self-belief, self-love and courage with children.
Reviewed by Raquel Mayman