A great children's book about communicating differently
Published on: 29 July 2015 Author: Felix Massie
Felix Massie talks about his latest book, Terry Perkins and His Upside Down Frown, which is a great children's book about communicating differently. Terry Perkins and His Upside Down Frown is Bookmark's Book of the Month in August 2015.
We've all got a friend who looks perfectly normal but is self conscious of their so-called small teeth, small chin, big nose, cackling laugh, freckly lips, or sad looking eyes. Usually they're far more conscious of it than anyone else is. Likewise we've all met someone who seems perfectly normal but then once you get to know them they tell you they have a chronic fear of social situations and hate parties. You never would have guessed.
In fact we've all made mountains out of molehills about many things in our lives; lying in bed at night cringing about something we said to someone years ago at chess club. Silly really because that person probably doesn't remember...
a. being in a chess club.
b. whatever it was you said.
They might not be in the country anymore. Maybe not even in the same continent. If they're an astronaut they might not even be on the planet anymore. So why should it matter?
We latch on to things. We can be hard on ourselves. We remember things and carry them with us for far longer than anyone else would care or notice to. We shape ourselves by deciding what our feelings are after various encounters and situations. If we're worried about the way we look; or the way we walk; or, in the case of Terry Perkins, the way we talk then the first sign that anyone has noticed it too - we we grab it!
'See? I KNEW I had lazy R's.'
It's like robbing a bank and being on the run: you're constantly looking over your shoulder waiting for someone to catch you out.
I'm really interested in physical metaphorical manifestations of our insecurities. In Terry Perkins And His Upside Down Frown, Terry's words literally come out wrong. They come out upside down and no-one has any idea what he's saying. Initially he can't communicate with other people and it makes him sad: he has a frown. His mother takes him to a doctor whose quick fix is to turn poor Terry on his head so that his words come out the right way up. Terry's frown has finally turned into a smile...
it's still very much a frown - only now his frown is upside down... along with the rest of Terry! This means he doesn't see things from the same point of view as anyone else which makes him an outcast. That is until he meets someone who shows him life can be just as fun when seen from another perspective.
Sometimes it can be hard to communicate what's going on in our heads. Sometimes it can feel like no-one agrees with us. Sometimes it can feel like everyone else fits in and we're the only odd one out. This is especially true to kids, when the world can feel so small and it feels like the people in your school are the only people who matter. We're not allowed to be different because it's so easy to be labelled weird. It's not until we're older that we can go out and find people with a similar perspective. Terry's upside-downess is a visual way of representing a psychological plight in a fun and physical way which is easy to understand and hopefully show that you can be (metaphorically) comfortable in your own shoes - even when they are (metaphorically) up in the air!
Felix Massie is the author of Terry Perkins and His Upside Down Frown published by Frances Lincoln Children's Books
See Felix Massie's animation trailer for Terry Perkins on YouTube: