In this simple but substantial picture book by Lana Button, shy, quiet Willow silently wishes she could find a way to say no to her bossy classmate Kristabelle's demands, but the words never seem to come when she needs them. That is, until Kristabelle starts using the powerful threat of un-inviting children from her “fantastic” birthday party to keep them in line, and Willow decides she's finally had enough. Surprising everyone, even herself, Willow steps up and bravely does something shocking, and it changes the entire dynamic of the classroom. This child-friendly and relatable story about bullying is elegantly told with honesty and heart. The simple artwork by Tania Howells beautifully captures the subtleties of the story; the children are the main focus of the spare illustrations, allowing their body language and facial expressions to leap off the page and showcase exactly how they're feeling. This is a book that will have young children on the edge of their seats at storytime, deeply sympathetic to the dilemma faced by Willow and her classmates. What makes this book particularly helpful is that it presents a model for how any child, even a shy one like Willow, can find his or her own way to deal with a bossy or bullying classmate. It offers a pitch-perfect lesson on how to stand up for yourself, terrifically aligning with character education lessons on courage. The empowering message here also helps promote individual self-awareness, self-esteem and good decision making.
Lana Button works in early childhood education. Her writing has been published in Ladybug magazine and Today’s Parent. Willow’s Whispers is Lana’s first book for Kids Can Press.
Tania Howells’s illustrations have appeared in Chirp and Today’s Parent, among other publications. She is the illustrator of Berkeley’s Barn Owl Dance and Willow’s Whispers.Tania lives in Toronto, Ontario.