Agatha and the dark by Anna Pignataro

cover image

Five Mile Press, 2016. ISBN 9781760402075
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Fear of the dark. Anxiety. Friendship. Being afraid of the dark is tackled well in this Agatha's second outing for Anna Pignataro. Agatha wakes one cold wintry morning and dresses to go to kindergarten with her mother, dresses in her bright red coat. On the bedroom floor can be seen an outline of something in the shadows which should not be there. Her teacher admires her coat reminding her of the story of Red Riding Hood, a story Agatha likes, although the walk though the dark woods is a little unsettling.
A storm outside upsets her friend, Yoko, so Agatha fetches her bear for her to cuddle. Soon everyone wants a cuddle too. Miss Tibble tells the group that everyone is frightened of something - why, even she is afraid of spiders. But the day remains just as dark, and one of the group tells them his brother had told him that monsters were in the dark. After that Miss Tibble does some positive work with the class about shadows, while at home, when Agatha goes to bed and is a little upset, her parents ask her to draw a monster she would like.
All the way through different tactics are taken to allay the children's fears about the dark, underlining the work being done at school and at home, as well as by Agatha and her friends helping each other.
Pagnataro's illustrations complement the text, showing some of the things the children are afraid of, but supporting them in their endeavours to overcome their fears. This will be a welcome introductory picture book for discussions at home and in the classroom, modeling strategies for parents, teachers and students.
Fran Knight