The Battle by Ashling Kwok
Illustrations by Cara King
Published by EK Success
Date: June 2020
I am excited to be part of another Book Tour with Romi and co, especially for a book that engages the theme of anxiety. As I poured through The Battle, I was overcome with just how well it explored anxiety when starting school in a way that children will grasp that was also fun.
Edward is anxious. He is starting school and is afraid of all the ogres and dragons that might be there. Edward sits back, hoping that no one notices him until lunchtime comes around when a dragon invites him to play. Even though he is scared, Edward decides to join in and ends up having a whole heap of fun. What Edward soon learns is that the dragons and ogres aren’t really monsters, but children just like him!
I loved this book more than I imagined I would. It creatively discusses anxiety when starting school and could easily be used for any anxious or shy situation with children. Edward and the ogres are endearing and brave, which makes you want to keep reading about them, even when they ‘transform’ into regular children. I think Ashling has done really well at showing the power of reaching out to others who aren’t glowing happiness and how it can spark joy and friendship. That side of things made me instantly think of the RUOK campaign, particularly with how Lucy reached out to Edward.
Cara has delightfully illustrated the book. The monster faces are so fun, not scary at all, so children will not be upset by their faces. I also really like the monsters bright hair in shades of yellow, blue and red which are also primary colours that children recognise at the ages this book is designed.
I also just want to mention the end pages from the perspective of someone that understands the effects of anxiety. Seeing Edward with his face in his hands and the monsters all around him is quite the visual representation of anxiety. I found it spoke to me quite directly, and I felt that rush of panic around him. It tugged at my heart knowing that children have these feelings and they too will recognise what Edward is going through but perhaps with a different level of understanding. It is for books such as this that I don’t think we should put an age on who picture books are for because they speak to us all regardless of our age.
I highly recommend this book about being courageous, finding friends, kindness and being brave. I also congratulate Ashling Kwok for putting into words what lots of little people feel when facing new things and going through changes in life. And, for all you big people too, put on your armour just like Edward and be ready to conquer the anxiety that you or your little one battle.
Are you ready to explore more about the battle? Check out all the other exciting things that have happened and are still to come.