Saturday, January 30, 2021

Review - Violet Shrink

Violet Shrink

by Christine Baldacchino
illustrated by Carmen Mok
Date: 2020
Publisher: Groundwood Books
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: library

Violet Shrink doesn’t like parties. Or bashes, or gatherings. Lots of people and lots of noise make Violet’s tummy ache and her hands sweat. She would much rather spend time on her own, watching the birds in her backyard, reading comics or listening to music through her purple headphones. The problem is that the whole Shrink family loves parties with loud music and games and dancing.

At cousin Char’s birthday party, Violet hides under a table and imagines she is a shark gliding effortlessly through the water, looking for food. And at Auntie Marlene and Uncle Leli’s anniversary bash, Violet sits alone at the top of the stairs, imagining she is a slithering snake way up in the branches.

When Violet learns that the Shrink family reunion is fast approaching, she musters up the courage to have a talk with her dad.

In this thoughtful story about understanding and acceptance, Violet’s natural introversion and feelings of social anxiety are normalized when she and her father reach a solution together. Christine Baldacchino’s warm text demonstrates the role imagination often plays for children dealing with anxiety, and the power of a child expressing their feelings to a parent who is there to listen. Carmen Mok’s charming illustrations perfectly capture Violet’s emotions and the vibrancy of her imagination. A valuable contribution to books addressing mental health.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I had high hopes for this one, but they weren't realized. It's not very satisfying to read a book with this kind of subject matter when nobody really changes.

Violet Shrink is a shrinking violet. She's highly introverted and hates parties. Her father, however, loves them, and he's always dragging his daughter to some sort of gathering where Violet inevitably hides under the table and imagines she's somewhere else. After learning about a big family shindig, she confronts her father. He listens, but then drags her to the party anyway, where Violet spends the time hiding under the table... this time with her father's blessing.

The better solution for everyone involved would've been for Victor to get a babysitter for his daughter. I guess times have changed since I was a kid, because nobody seems to use those anymore and kids get dragged everywhere. I found the so-called resolution troubling, since it wasn't really a compromise and Violet was still being forced into unwanted situations even after making her feelings clear.

I'm glad the book at least tried to address the issue of social anxiety... but the ending—which basically showed Violet and her father engaging in almost the same behaviour that was shown at the beginning of the book—just made the whole thing feel kind of pointless.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 4/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 3/5

Overall: 3.17 out of 5

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