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Guest Reviewer: Dimity Powell reviews Without Me

Guest Reviewer: Dimity Powell reviews Without Me

WITHOUT ME Kayleen West
Remember those days in your childhood when you felt the undeniable urge to shed the shackles of family constraint and run away? I do. I spent long hours planning my departure, organising provisions, and packing essentials, which were every doll and stuffed animal I owned.

I can't remember the various motivations for my wanting to leave and of course most attempts failed, stalled inexplicably under the apricot tree en-route to 'not sure where'.

Many kids experience this kind of emotional quandary as they navigate their way through difficult life situations; bewildering social expectations and consolidation of their own unique identities. In short, it's part of growing up.

Kayleen West's picture book, Without Me, captures this crossroad period in a small boy's life as he plans to leave his family believing they no longer love him. He packs his bags along with his resolve and then just as he sets off, begins to revaluate his situation.

West creates an accumulative checklist for our would-be-runaway using the passing of minutes, a nice numerical inclusion for young readers whilst establishing a sense of order and reason. Our nameless protagonist soon realises that every member of his family relies on him and values him at some level, whether for food, comfort, play, or simply companionship. After just ten minutes, his desire to leave wanes and he discovers that his true worth lies within being part of his family with them, not away from them.

Love and belonging often evolve from a sense of need and acceptance but this equation is not always apparent to little people or easy for them to comprehend. West's sharply coloured illustrations and light-hearted narrative helps them make the connection whilst delivering a far reaching reminder that it is not always kids who want to run away from the realities of the world.

Suitable for 4 – 7 year olds.

Wombat Books 2013

Reviewed by Dimity Powell

For this and more reviews by Dimity Powell visit: http://dimswritestuff.blogspot.com.au/ 

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Did you ever want to run away from home?

Did you ever want to run away from home?

Without Me?, by Kayleen West has just been released and you can win a copy!

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Without Me?, is a light-hearted story about a runaway child, who wants to leave home, but before he can, he worries about those he will leave behind. As he reflects on the impact of his departure, he realises ultimately where he belongs. This new picture book written and illustrated by Kayleen West, has an entertaining approach as it journeys the reader through a common reaction–fight and flight.

"A fun and engaging story that helps children explore how emotions can influence decisions.  Kayleen's playful illustrations bring the story to life...and even add another story of their own!  This is a great resource for both parents and teachers to help prepare children for life's tricky moments," Natasha LeBrocq, Primary Student Welfare Officer.

Children often struggle to navigate their relationships, emotions and reasoning––Without Me is a picture book for ages 5-9 that introduces escapism in a simple story that will make children (and adults) smile. Over the course of 10 minutes, the child reflects and highlights the simplest pleasures of relationship. The lovable but comical plot ends with a sense of belonging and safety that will gratify the reader.

“Arguably, we’ve all thought of running from difficult situations.  Without Me was created for our kids, who live in today’s fast-paced, rash mouse-click decreed internet world. More and more, children struggle with social acceptance and are somewhat virtually socially taught. I created a fun unassuming story that journeys a child through inner dialogue, emphasising healthy reflection with a message of value in reciprocal relationships,” said Kayleen.

“I suggest teachers and councillors use Without Me in conjunction with Edward de Bono’s six thinking hats, to build on effective evaluation skills.”

This is Kayleen’s second published picture book in 2013. She is working on 2 more tiles for 2014 release. Motivated by stories that encourage and equip children, Kayleen writes and illustrates with a child’s future in mind.

Without Me? is available in all good book stores or buy online now.

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