Reviews /

Everybody’s Equal

Authored by Patricia Hegarty
Illustrated by Greg Abbott
Published by Little Tiger Press Group

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Everybody’s Equal is a picture book for younger children which introduces the concepts of equality and inclusion via a rhyming story about woodland animals.

This story takes place in a woodland community of cute animals which was founded by a pioneering mouse in Everybody’s Welcome by the same author/illustrator team. A stoat arrives and swiftly starts erecting a fence to keep out Mouse. Principled Mouse asserts his disagreement with the refrain, ‘Everybody’s equal, I’m sure you will agree. I’m as good as you and you’re as good as me.’  He calls a meeting, during which an enthusiastic frog knocks over a candle. With their house on fire, they need water but access to the river is blocked by Stoat’s wall! A rousing appeal from Mouse convinces Stoat to change his mind and join with the other animals to put out the fire.

Whether used as an entertaining storytime read, or as a platform for discussion, Everybody’s Equal would be a welcome addition to a classroom bookshelf. The Disney-esque animal characters appeal to young children and the muted colours and matt pages give the illustrations a comforting, retro feel. Young readers would enjoy the added interest of half-page flaps and a cut-out. Though the themes are weighty, the simple story told in bouncing rhymes would be easily enjoyed by children from 4 years upwards.

Everybody’s Equal offers lots to discuss in a classroom and would work well in circle time or as part of a topic which addresses equality, belonging and community. It is likely that children of the target age would need guidance to properly understand the issues and make links to their own lives. Why did Stoat do that? How can they change his mind? Who would make the best leader? Should we have a leader? It would be a useful reference point for playground conflicts or fallings out, particularly those involving a child being excluded from games. The theme of asserting rights and taking action could be explored by linking to local issues which children might feel strongly about.

Everybody’s Equal is a sweet story with endearing characters but hopefully its readers will be inspired to create a ‘world without fences’.