Meep by Andy Geppert
My latest review for one of the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book of the Year – Early Childhood notables is for Meep.
Meep has beautiful feathers and lots of friends who don’t feel very happy with themselves.
In this book Meep keeps getting asked to share his feathers so that his friends can hide something about themselves. And he does – until he has no feathers left.
I read this with the same worry I have when reading Rainbow Fish – but I like the way this book ends. Meep is sad when he has given all of his feathers away but his friends come to realise that all those things they were trying to hide are important so they give Meep back his feathers and everyone is themselves again.
I’m always a little wary of books that overdo the ‘sharing message’ because while it is important to not a greedy and to give of ourselves sometimes what I find happens in some picture books is that the message stops at SHARE. Which is why I have an issue with the aforementioned ‘Rainbow Fish’ – the Rainbow Fish has to give up what makes them special to please others and there is an element of that in this too but unlike that other book Meep doesn’t do it to make friends but to make his friends happier and I think we’ve all been in positions where we’ve given too much of ourselves because someone else was in need of something. And Meep is left without any of his feathers – the things that make him SPECIAL. But the message of this book isn’t that you need to share, or that you need to give too much of yourself to please others, but rather that you should look at yourself and see what makes you special, what makes you wonderful, and embrace that rather than wishing to be someone else. And also, to think about what you’re giving and if doing something else might be better. And that is a question you can ask when you share this book – instead of giving up his feathers what could Meep have done?
I would like to think that one day we won’t need picture books like this but in today’s world books like this are so very important for children. For all of us really. We all look at others sometimes and think – if I had your…insert here…then I would be less…insert here…but what this book suggests is that the lion who doesn’t want to be scary should remember that being scary is who they are and that is what makes them the lion.
I started reading this book being a little worried about what message I was going to end up with. But I had faith in the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s judges because they are people who worry about these things too. And they didn’t steer me wrong.
I would read this to anyone who has ever felt that they had to be, or look, different. Or as the author says:
For all the people who answer NO to the following question:
Are you beautiful?
I’m going to give this book 4/5 stars, but I’d love to know what you think.
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