Review by Rachel Walker, Primary School Teacher
Fantastic Florence, it’s not your fault
Lesley Millard Zafran. (2021). Authorhouse.
A story is designed to be a safe space for children to see themselves in the story's characters and is an invaluable tool for parents and caregivers, therapists and educators.

Fantastic Florence is the creation of three extraordinary women who believe in the power of storytelling to help children who experience trauma and find themselves dealing with difficult situations. A writer, a therapist, and an educator - their voices unite in Florence’s energy and insight. 

How many of us would rush home to tell our toys the good and bad things that happened when we first started school? How many of us still do this, venting to a blog, journal or diary, having a one-sided discussion to release our inner thoughts that we don’t want to burden others with? This story has a very clever way of ‘tapping into’ the mind of a child who is being bullied and is too ashamed to reach out and ask for help. Positioning an inanimate object as the main source of help and comfort will potentially help make connections and raise awareness that it is OK to ask for help. 

I read this story to my class of 6 and 7 year olds and they responded with interest. They discussed with their peers the meaning behind the story and talked about who they would talk to if they were unhappy in general, not just from being bullied. We also observed the way Ella chose to avoid attention by wearing plain coloured clothes when she was given bright new clothes; they all looked at what they were wearing and talked about how they stand out in different ways. 

This is an easy read and relevant for many age groups. The language was accessible for little people and the pictures were very sweet. The simplicity of the positive messages that can make someone feel so much better about themselves is a reminder to all of us that when you are being bullied, it’s not your fault!

Disclaimer: Please note these reviews are not intended as endorsements or recommendations from the Mental Health Foundation. This feature introduces resources that may be useful for individuals with an interest in bullying prevention, mental health and wellbeing topics.

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