Review of Me and My Fear

Me and My Fear
by Francesca Sanna; illus. by the author
Primary    Nobrow/Flying Eye    32 pp.
9/18    978-1-911171-53-9    $17.95

This follow-up to The Journey (rev. 3/17), about a refugee family fleeing a war-torn homeland, focuses on the young daughter’s apprehension as she adjusts to life in a new country and a new school. In the previous book, death was abstracted as a black blob with menacing inky tendrils; here, fear is a puffy, white, somewhat amorphous character (with something of a sense of humor), often indistinguishable from the surrounding negative space, whose size fluctuates according to circumstances. And while fear is a constant companion, she is not necessarily a sinister one. Fear is a burden, to be sure, but one that also functions as a buffer between the girl and what Fear perceives to be danger or injustice (“Fear hates my new school. When the teacher says my name wrong, she grows angry…even though I know it was just an accident”). When the girl befriends a boy in her class, she sees he has a fear of his own, and soon discovers that everyone has one. The final pages depict a classroom and a playground full of children and their fears, who appear small, soft, and smiling, suggesting their presence in one’s life as not something to be overcome but, rather, understood and embraced. A brief author’s note acknowledges the many refugee children who shared their stories as well as the help of The Reluctant Internationalists project at Birkbeck, University of London.

From the November/December 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
Thom Barthelmess
Thom Barthelmess
Thom Barthelmess is Youth Services Manager for the Whatcom County Library System in northwest Washington State.

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