Review by Ari Prakash
Mophead Tu: The Queen's Poem
Selina Tusitala Marsh. (2020). New Zealand: Auckland University Press.
From the sinking islands in the South Seas to the smoggy streets of London, this is a hilariously thought-provoking take on colonial histories and one poet's journey to bridge the divide.

Selina Tusitala Marsh is back with Mophead Tu: The Queen’s Poem,  the sequel to her first graphic memoir Mophead. It is touching, witty and an important read for every child who struggles to find their place in the world. In this sequel, Selina has been crowned the Commonwealth Poet and has been asked to create and read a poem to another distinguished lady with a crown: the late Queen Elizabeth II. 

But how does a graphic memoir about a commonwealth poet and the late Queen relate to young people? As a person of mixed heritage, growing up in a colonial country, it can be hard to define your place in the world and how you relate to the environment around you. For Selina, she experienced a struggle between honouring the history of her people without ignoring their struggles against colonisation. There is some friction on both sides. A friend calls Selina a ‘sellout’ for receiving the Commonwealth Crown, and the five rules for creating the poem make it hard to acknowledge colonial histories. Selina breaks down these hard-to-swallow ideas into nuggets of wisdom that parents and kids can digest with ease.

A sense of identity is closely tied to good mental health. Being caught between different identities and roles can take a toll on wellbeing. However, this book shows that ‘being stuck in the middle’ doesn’t have to be a bad thing, whether it is being a middle child, in the middle of a divorce or caught between different racial identities. Being in the middle means you can build bridges between two opposite sides, so you can help them both find common ground. Discrimination often comes from a place of ignorance. But when you focus on the bridges that connect us instead of the lands that separate us, that is when you find unity.

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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