Ashling Kwok (text) and Cara King (illustrator), The Battle, EK Books, June 2020, 32pp., RRP $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781925820409
Edward is worried about his first day at knight-school. He puts on his armour, ready to hunt dragons and chase ogres. It takes all his courage to whisper an answer in class, and at lunch he creeps outside, hoping no one notices him. But when Edward decides to take a chance and takes off his armour, he begins to see the schoolyard for what it really is. There are no monsters or giants or ogres, instead there are children. Just like him.
The Battle is a wonderful book about dealing with anxiety in new situations. The themes of worry and courage are presented in an imaginative and insightful way, gently engaging, and helping children understand that sometimes things aren’t as scary as they first seem. Like Edward learning that his armour just gets in the way, sometimes children need to let their guard down a little to let go of fear and see things the way they really are.
The full-page watercolour illustrations are a beautiful feature of this story. Although we can see from Edward’s face that he is anxious, the “monsters” are depicted as being rather cute and friendly, making sure the book isn’t too scary for children. The language is simple, yet emotive and again is just the right tone for children who might be very sensitive.
The Battle is a great book for children who are worried about starting school, meeting new people, or trying new things. Highly recommended.
Reviewed by Bec Blakeney