Josh Langley, Being You is Enough and Other Important Stuff, Big Sky Publishing, 1 March 2016, 117pp. $14.99 (pbk), ISBN: 9781925275827
The self-help genre of inspirational non-fiction literature has burgeoned in recent years; just look at the shelf space taken up with it in bookshops. Now it seems the readership is stretching to children. Or at least writers are producing the stuff for children. It is one thing for an adult to tell little encouraging homilies to children but quite something else to expect a child to read a book of homilies themselves, no matter how cartoony the illustration might be. So who is this book for and what is its intended use?
The author, who has two previous similar publications of ‘everyday wisdom’, presents ‘11 essential life affirming messages that’ll help kids navigate through school and life’. No. 4 is typical: over eight alternating white and coloured coated leaves, a phrase and a facing Paintbox-like cartoon picture per spread, is the message ‘It’s OK to be different./To look different./And to do different things./So don’t be afraid to be you.’
Perhaps a school counsellor may find the book useful. As for the child, let them read stories, identify with characters and understand themselves and the world through the empathy they bring to the reading. They’ll remember the story, the homilies will soon be forgotten in a world that is becoming full of slogans, homilies, maxims and such.
Reviewed by Kevin Steinberger