The world can be a frightening and overwhelming place. Pina, an orange cat-like character with large, soulful eyes, prefers to stay at home.
In his little abode, Pina is surrounded by creature comforts and familiar objects. He can snuggle under a soft blanket and read a book, sit by the open fire with a cup of tea, or rustle up a delicious meal. Only–oh no!–the day comes when Pina must leave his cozy safe haven. He has run out of forest cheese.
In this picture book for children ages 6-9, Turkish author/illustrator Elif Yemenici’s marvelous artwork emphasizes the contrast between Pina’s home and the world outside it. The gorgeously retro home is depicted in rich, warm hues (red, brown, yellow…). When Pina ventures out of his front door, the palette becomes predominantly black and white. Shadowy figures are fishing, lost items litter the cobblestones, a ghostly white sheet blows in the wind.
It’s a lot for Pina to deal with. Fortunately, he has some strategies to help him manage his anxiety: mindful breathing, a favorite object, and a focus on the things he loves most. And they work! Pina still has to confront his fears and make it to the cheese shop and back. But he succeeds in his mission. And the next time he needs to head out for supplies, he finds it that little bit easier. He even has a positive encounter with his local grocer. Turns out that the outside world isn’t such a frightening and overwhelming place, after all.
Pina is a beautifully perceptive, creative picture book and a reassuring read for any child struggling to deal with fears of the outside world.
Written and illustrated by Elif Yemenici
Translated from Turkish by Sydney Wade
Published by Tilbury House Publishers, 2022
Reviews: School Library Journal, Youth Services Book Review
You can buy a copy of Pina here or find it in a library.*
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With thanks to the publisher for providing review copies of both books.
Laura Taylor is the founder of world children’s literature blog Planet Picture Book. She is a small business copywriter, NAATI-certified translator of French into English and member of AUSIT. When she is not writing, she is reading, and chasing after her two young children. She occasionally tweets @plapibo and posts at www.planetpicturebook.com