Why diversity matters at Christmas 03/12/20
The New Girl
In this emotive picture book, an unseen narrator describes what happens when a new girl joins their school. The children laugh and shout at her, as she doesn’t look like them and speaks a different language. They force her to sit alone at lunchtime as they don’t like the smell of her food. Sad and lonely, she moves around the school with her head down and shoulders hunched, while indistinct, shadowy tormentors lurk at the edge of every page.
The girl’s response to this hostility is to make exquisite origami flowers for her classmates, which bring them joy, lighting up the dark atmosphere they have created. The beautiful gifts help to bridge their differences and draw them together, and eventually friendship blossoms amid the garden of paper flowers.
This tale reminds children of the importance of being kind and inclusive. It subtly demonstrates that by celebrating difference, new experiences can be enjoyed. While eloquent text presents the perspective of the unfriendly students, the new girl’s emotions are accentuated through the thoughtful page layout and delicate watercolour illustrations. This dual narrative enables readers to clearly understand how the cruel behaviour affects the girl’s emotions, helping them to develop empathy and compassion.