“Some change was good. Some was bad. But whatever came, she could face it.”
Henrietta is a hedgehog who thrives on routine and order, so when her parents hold a family meeting and tell her that there will be no school the next day, she is nervous. Her mother gently explains that something called thistleberries have started to fall, and if someone were to tread on one, it could make them very sick. To keep everyone safe, there would be no school or running in the soft mossy grass outside. To make matters worse, Henrietta’s mother can’t even say how long they will have to stay inside for! While her siblings, Owen and Nora, seem excited to be off school, Henrietta is ‘not okay’. Her brother and sister get stuck into making special boots to protect their feet from the thistleberries, but Henrietta refuses, even though she longs to be outside again. Anything touching her paws is a no-go. But when her father finds some beautifully soft, moss-like fabric to make her a special pair of boots, Henrietta slowly becomes accustomed to having them on her feet, and eventually, she conquers her fears and steps outside to play. Over the subsequent months, Henrietta learns to love her boots, and realises that she can face up to, and successfully cope with, change.
A delightful and compelling story featuring a determined and spirited character who has been captured beautifully by talented illustrator Marcy Tippmann. While some children take change in their stride, others will recognise a little of themselves within Henrietta as she struggles to come to terms with ‘the new normal’. There are obvious parallels between the Coronavirus pandemic and the ‘thistleberry crisis’ that Laura Anderson Kirby has created, and adults and children may use the book as a starting point to reflect together on what they have been through. However, this is a book with themes and messages that transcend the pandemic: resilience, transition, courage, overcoming fears, playing to your strengths, supporting others with kindness and empathy.
Author Laura Anderson Kirby, Ph.D. is inspired by her work as child clinical psychologist and her experience raising two young, spirited children. You can read more about her work on her website.