Review Blog

Jul 17 2017

The Whirlpool by Emily Larkin

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Ill. by Helene Magisson. Wombat Books, 2017. ISBN 9781925563047
Life is lovely for Polar Bear Cub. He has a happy, loving family where he is safe and protected. He has friends and dreams for the future. Each day is better than the last and he is in charge of his life. Even the stars shine just for him.
But suddenly all that is snatched away. Without warning, darkness descends and there is no family or friends. No hopes and dreams. Loneliness is his only companion - not even the stars are there for him.
Born from a uni assignment of using words and pictures together to make meaning, this is an unusual story because as the text speaks directly to the reader, it is the pictures of Polar Bear Cub that provide such a graphic interpretation of what they are saying, even though there is no reference to him in the words themselves. Together, they give depth and understanding to a situation that many of our children find themselves in when disaster and catastrophe strike their lives and all that is familiar is gone. Even its title is symbolic of the range of emotions that are within us, sometimes raging out of control but always eventually calming to a manageable level.
To children, some things - such as the coming of Santa Claus - seem to take forever, while to adults the time passes in a flash. Similarly, to a child darkness lasts forever with no hope of light and their emotions are intense. This book is written "for kids to know that it's okay to feel a range of emotions. It's okay to feel lonely, sad or uncertain - but these times don't have to last. "
The well-being, particularly the mental health, of our students is receiving more and more focus in our curriculum as mindfulness programs are seen as crucial to a student's success in other areas so this is an timely addition to that collection of resources to initiate discussions and provide support.
Barbara Braxton

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