Rose Stanley (text) Lisa Allen (illus.), Tilly’s Big Problem, Starfish Bay, 1 April 2015, 32pp., $14.99 (pbk), ISBN 9780994100306
Younger readers will immediately be caught up by the concerns of Tilly whose funny friend Ned helps her begin to find an answer to her big problem. He wisely helps her devise a plan to help her test for the best big person at school to talk to about her problem.
The bright illustrations are entertaining even though they introduce characters who have difficult underlying issues. Young readers will feel invited to look for assistance from suitable adults by the warmth and quirkiness of the pictures. These complement the text and add other genres like typed up profiles of teachers and staff at Tilly’s school and the different styles of letters composed by these characters in reply to a request from her.
Although the problem works as a hook to attract readers, we never learn its exact nature. However, by the end of the story Tilly has found an adult confidant in the school staff and is approaching her anxiety with more composure. This is a rather unusual story that contains lots of interesting words to investigate. It has a light touch but carefully respects young children’s dignity and their need and ability to make thoughtful choices.
reviewed by Elspeth Cameron