Reviews /

Everything Changes

Authored by Clare Helen Welsh
Illustrated by Åsa Gilland
Published by Little Tiger Press

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Everything Changes is a gentle exploration of how a family adapts to life after divorce. This first person narrative is voiced by a young child experiencing the changes the family goes through and the confusing array of emotions this causes. The changing seasons that show the reader time is passing are also the basis of metaphors used by the parents to help their child process the situation and their feelings. Each page is beautifully illustrated to match the mood of the child’s internal monologue. The main character is presented in a gender-neutral way, though clues indicate it is a boy. This neutrality feels important as the character’s feelings can’t be dismissed as stereotypical, and the parents’ reactions are a further acknowledgement of the validity of each feeling. The separation and divorce are shown as amicable and throughout the text the focus is on helping the child understand that they are still part of a loving family, albeit in a different way to before. Diverse representations are visible throughout the book in terms of ethnicity and age. A range of family relationships are also visible in the background illustrations, where other children are shown playing with grandparents, single and co-parents.

The only jarring aspect of the book is the lack of warning that the separation is coming: the first page spread introduces us to the family enjoying a holiday together and then on page two they announce they can’t live together any more while still on the beach. Throughout the rest of the book the illustrations provide hints and clues as to the mood and atmosphere, so this lack of foreshadowing stands out.

This book would be a useful one for teachers, parents and carers working with the 3-7 age range, particularly for one-to-one reading where a child may be experiencing similar events. It would also work with older primary children as the basis for text analysis, where the use of metaphor and the way illustrations tell parts of the story not hinted at in the text can be explored.