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Raymund and the Fear Monster, Megan Higginson (author), Ester de Boer (illus.), Blue Brumby Books, November 2019.
A monster that eats fear is terrorising Raymund’s village.
Raymund is small and not very brave.
Will Raymund be able to overcome his fear, defeat the monster and save his village?
Dedicated to the children of the Spirit and Life Mission House whom she visited in the Philippines in 2013, Megan Higginson reflects their story, as well as her own, in this powerful and significant tale of a young boy on a journey to self-discovery. Her narrative cleverly winds us through a path beginning with a shy, timid Raymund, which is later juxtaposed by his assertive demeanour and a ‘deflated’, once-terrorising fear monster. Illustrator Ester de Boer stunningly captures this very essence through her finely detailed ink drawings; the frightened expressions on the children’s faces, the winding vines of the forest leading us to the garishly manic-eyed, blunt-toothed, hairy monster with a threatening posture that fortunately doesn’t last too long. Every spread is to die for – the combination of Higginson’s emotive text and de Boer’s stunningly elaborate illustrations that readers will want to spend hours pouring over.
But not only does this story address overcoming fear through courage, it weaves in the process of positive self-talk and mindfulness as important strategies for its audience. ‘Fear’, in the literal sense, grows bigger with every whimper and quake shown by the villagers. ‘Raymund’ is kept small as he allows fear to overcome his every move and waking thought. Until enough is enough. Deep, slow breathing, counting to ten, and bolstering his own courage all assist in his ability to step out towards the beast – even despite its awful stench of fish guts, rotten eggs and stinky feet! Wait ‘til you see who the pip squeak is now!
Raymund and the Fear Monster has a kind of Brothers’ Grimm timeless and classic appeal with its clear-cut villain and whimsical fairy-tale-like qualities, added with light-hearted humour and a prevalent message for today’s time. It’s beneficial for readers to understand that fear in small amounts ‘keeps you on your toes’, and that overwhelming fear can certainly be managed. This empowering, funny, and spectacularly illustrated book of courage, resilience, friendship and mindfulness will have primary school children stomping their feet in the face of fear over and over again. A book that has the potential to change lives.
“A fun story that makes me want to face my own fears – Raymund will be a hero to kids everywhere!” – Adam Wallace, international best-selling author
Review by Romi Sharp.
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