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School friends – Kiana, Amin, Roshan, Casey, Ming and Tyler all have one thing in common – they can’t go to school. The world changed very quickly and now they have to stay home to keep themselves and their families and friends safe. They discover that even apart, they can find new and fun ways to be together.
At a time when the world looks a little different, this encouraging story promises young readers an opportunity to reflect on their own experience of this unique moment in history while promoting resilience and unity.
The biggest piece of history this century that the whole globe can, in unison, claim, is the pandemic of 2020. Whilst our individual experiences of lockdown may have varied, we can surely say that we’ve all done this together. What I love about this book is its positive approach to building a resilient generation of children, who, no doubt, have been through their own challenges in some form or another. Skye Hughes, author of the delightfully fun and heart-warming We’re All in This Together, strongly advocates for this sense of unity, kinship and kindness; the very support needed to manage this trying time. Her book also acts as a reflective tool for the year that was. It provides such strong links between text to self and text to the world!
In We’re All in This Together, we are introduced to six school friends, and journey with each of them as they navigate a ‘new normal’ during the lockdown period. Although apart, Kiana, Amin, Roshan, Casey, Ming and Tyler find fun ways to connect, and even pick up a new skill or two. Skye Hughes’ snippets into the friends’ worlds includes the realities of hygiene and social practices, but at the same time illuminating with warmth that reminds children not to have fear of others, or their surroundings. “She watched the old man closely as the skin around his eyes wrinkled, and his eyes shone down at her. He was smiling back.”
Skye Hughes doesn’t discount the real emotions of loneliness, longing, boredom or disappointment, but the characters’ short stories are full of hope and brightness that offer practical strategies and perhaps even scenarios that readers experienced themselves. Like Ming, who celebrated her birthday in lockdown – whilst upset she could no longer have a party with her friends, receipt of presents and phone calls made the day equally as special. There is a beautiful underlying sentiment of gratitude, appreciation, love and a can-do attitude, all the while reminding us “We’re all in this together.”
Illustrator Alice Coates brings all the colourful and diverse characters and their time at home together, with her friendly and quirky style and touches of details that we can relate to (like the teddy and rainbow in the window). The use of white backgrounds and a mixture of bright vignettes and full pages gives the space to absorb each scene and the context of each character’s story. The design and narrative structure allows for a self-paced read and time to discuss and share the readers’ own experiences.
A special page at the end is allocated for your own self-expression and feelings; a wonderful keepsake to reflect back on this time in history. Interactive, downloadable material can also be accessed via Skye’s website at www.skyehughes.com.au/shop.
We’re All in This Together is a rewarding picture book that is highly recommended for every home and early to middle years school classroom, as a treasured reminder of all the achievements, skills learnt, friendships kept and made, and your own path to self-growth and resilience. What a way to end the unique year that was 2020! We did it! 😊
Review by Romi Sharp
We’re All in This Together is available to purchase at Skye Hughes’ website.
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