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Not Too Far From My Back Door, Tania Louise Smith (author), Archv Art (illus.), Tania Louise Smith Publishing, November 2019.
An empowering self discovery book for big and little feelings experienced by little and big people, heard through the voices of mother nature.
Melodic and expressive illustrations pair with the richly meaningful and lyrical text to share a sensitive story of heightened emotions within the vast beauty of mother nature and the depths of one’s heart.
Told through a first-person narration, a child comes to realise that an inner strength for coping with big feelings is always held within – with the help of the whisperings of the surrounding landscape. ‘Not Too Far From My Back Door’ is a beautiful metaphor for young readers to ponder, and to understand that help, guidance, security and comfort is never far away. Author and experienced social worker, Tania Louise Smith, captivates and encourages reflective interpretation with her poetic-like text and her underlying messages of hope, resilience, empowerment and exploration of one’s emotional growth. The vivid language and quintessence of nature enhance the emotions being reinforced and soothed. ‘”Bask in my warmth, little one,” sweetly sounded the sun. “I am here to give you light on a shadow filled day.’
The mixed illustrative techniques by Archv Art feature brush strokes, spatters and daubs; energetic but at the same time, loose and undefined, emanating a calming tone and with an openness that fills the pages and leaves room for the text. Colours are intense and reflect variances across natural landscapes, just as emotions vary in intensity, too. From the ‘soothing sounds’ of a turquoise wind sky, to the ‘glistening glow’ of a dandelion yellow field, and the ‘beautiful bliss’ of aquamarine waters. These places aptly reflect an atmosphere to refresh and recharge.
These descriptive, alliterative, playful yet gentle phrases alongside the contemplative pictures allows young readers opportunity to process and appreciate the world around them. Sharing the book between children and caregivers provides ample space for discussion about meaningful and sensitive topics such as one’s place in the world, an environmental focus, and mindfulness / mental health strategies surrounding managing big emotions and difficult life circumstances.
Not Too Far From My Back Door is a visually stunning and thoughtful, tender tale representative of the power of courage to reach out, as well as within. It also acknowledges the validity of a child’s feelings – big or small. Children from age four will find themselves through exploration of the beauty in the world, within the book, and within their own minds and hearts.
Review by Romi Sharp
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