Children are faced with many issues relating to social aspects of life. It seems that in today’s open and free society, issues arise that have not been faced before by many adults. Homosexuality and Trans Gender questions were never discussed or open topics, not so long ago. Now we face the dilemma of how to introduce these areas, to answer their questions. Using the medium of a Picture Book, the author presents the idea of Trans Gender issues, and how children might cope.
She has done this in a sensitive, caring way. It is gently revealed that teddy wants to wear his bow tie in his hair, rather that round his neck and he wants to be called Tilly. He is afraid that he will lose his friends if he tells them this. His statement is accepted with such ease and complacency that he is introduced immediately by his new name. The friendship between Teddy and his group is the most valued thing.
The strong message we get is acceptance and that loyalty to friends is paramount. The author found herself in a similar predicament with her son, discovering there were no resources to help him understand why his grandfather had changed.
Jessica Walton has written this book to raise this topic with children, to educate, and for some, help to understand, It is through the medium of stories that many of us make meaning of life, and understand others. Caring for each other and accepting each other, are essential qualities for children to integrate into their behaviour and lifestyles.
“Introducing Teddy”, is a Picture Book, indicating a younger audience is the focus, but also lends itself to be read to older children to promote discussion. The drawings are simplistic crayon drawings, which provide no distractions to the story and message. No adults are shown, with all the power and decision making left to the little boy and girl.
The text is simple and clear, with no confusion surrounding meaning and feeling. It has been cleverly compiled to leave a simple story to convey the most complex of issues. For the very young child, no explanation is needed. Kindness and friendship, and above all respect for friends’ decisions, without judgement or censure, is how we live. Perhaps with this in mind, people like the author’s father won’t have to wait until late adulthood to express who they are.
Perhaps, with this subject matter discussed more openly and understood at an earlier age, when acceptance is non-judgemental and a natural aspect of learning, the long term effects on the mental health of many who are trans-gender will be positive, contributing towards helping society in general be far more accepting of the fact that we are not all born the same!
|Author||illustrated by Dougal MacPherson and Jessica Walton|