Just Imagine

My Monster and Me

Authored by Nadiya Hussain
Illustrated by Ella Bailey
Published by Hodder Children's Books

This is a short hardback picturebook of medium size about how a small boy finds out how to deal with anxieties.

The author of the book is Nadiya Hussain, erstwhile winner of Bake-Off and now a celebrity TV cook. I imagine that her intentions in writing this book were of the best, since she herself has openly and publicly discussed her own deep anxieties, and is thus writing from a position of genuine insight and knowledge.

However, I’m afraid that, in terms of the book itself, small readers or listeners simply won’t find it easy to understand the nature of the monster without being explicitly told. He doesn’t seem to be directly connected to any of the daily events in the story but is a kind of generalised permanent presence.  Also, he just doesn’t look scary. He’s bright sunshine yellow and sometimes wears a big smile.  I keep thinking about the quality of a text like ‘The Huge Bag of Worries’ and wondering why we need another book on the subject, though Nadiya’s advice to talk over your worries to someone close is sound. Teachers might possibly find something useful to discuss here, but I’m left concluding that writing a children’s book certainly wasn’t a piece of cake for Nadiya.