Joel Pilgrim (text), Mitch Revs (illus.), Stand Up, Stand Out, Little Steps Publishing, 1 July 2017, 36pp., $24.99 (hbk), ISBN: 9781925545241
This hardcover picture book aims to promote mental health awareness through rhyme and brightly coloured images. It sends the clear message that it is okay to feel down sometimes and talking about your problems with friends will help.
Parry the parrot is feeling down. He tries to hide it but that proves to be ‘too tough’ so he comes up with a plan to dress up in fancy dress and head to the beach where the salty waves and a few friendly ears will help him feel better. This builds into a large group of troubled birds meeting in their fanciest of clothes to chat about their woes.
The anthropomorphised bird characters will easily win over young readers. Who doesn’t love talking, eccentric clothes wearing birds? Crazy hats, stripy ties, rainbow socks and barely-there swimmer bottoms make for some very humorous images.
The cartoon caricatures are very bright and loud, showcasing beach and surf scenes throughout the course of the story. When I read this book to my children they commented on the colours describing them as ‘happy’ and ‘sunny’ which I’m sure was the intention of the illustrator, Mitch Revs.
The story is written in rhyme, which I like as a way to teach the flow of language to young children, however at times it feels forced and loses its rhythm. Perhaps rhyme is not the best approach to a story with such a strong message as this where prose could be used to better communicate the ideas.
The lesson to be learnt in this book is an important one for children to hear time and again through a variety of mediums. While feeling down is okay it shouldn’t be ignored and talking about our differences or what is on our minds helps ‘to let go of all the worries… [we]have stored’. This is a clear and repeated message in the text.
The Waves of Wellness Foundation will receive five dollars from every book sold to contribute to an initiative that incorporates mental health awareness through surfing and salt water therapy, a worthy cause and a positive message.
With the quirky characters and colourful illustrations, I’d recommend this book for children from four to eight years.
Reviewed by Katie Mineeff