Telling children just how brave they are

Superheroes Don’t Get Scared … Or Do They? is the debut book from Felpham-based former lawyer Kate Thompson – a book which aims to tell children just how brave they are.

Wednesday, 16th September 2020, 8:00 am
Kate Thompson and Oliver in the black mask and Harry in the white mask
Kate Thompson and Oliver in the black mask and Harry in the white mask

Mother-of-two Kate offers it as an insightful, funny, rhyming tale which encourages children to face their fears and find their inner superpowers.

“I moved to Felpham about six and a half years ago, just before my youngest was born. I just love being by the sea. I am quite an anxious person. I worry about things, but you go and look at the edge of the sea and it just puts everything into perspective. You stand at the edge of the sea and it is so lovely to look out.”

And that sense of perspective taps into the book: “I really wanted children to be able to realise how brave they are. My two children have both got congenital heart defects, and children will go though the most terrifying ordeals, and they go through them and just smile. They just accept what needs to be done. There is also an element that they are being cared for so brilliantly, but children just have a different world view.

“I am quite a shy person, and for me new situations can be quite daunting, but children are experiencing new things on a daily basis, play groups and school and so on, and they just do them.

“I was walking my youngest, Harry, to school and he whispered that he wished he could be brave and he wished he wasn’t scared, and I took a moment to explain to him that he was immensely brave to be going to school every day. And really that was part of the inspiration for the book.”

In the book, illustrated by Devon-based Clare Elsom, scared Maisie Brown dreams of being a fearless superhero – because they never get frightened. But when dad and mum explain that even the strongest, boldest and bravest hero can sometimes feel afraid, and that’s perfectly fine, Maisie realises there’s a superhero in all of us.

“I think children often don’t realise how brave they are. They are used to the stereotypical super-heroes doing these great big acts that are so brave, but I wanted to bring it down to the daily lev-el to show children just how brave they already are.

“Sometimes as adults we try to protect our children and pretend that we are not scared, but I think it is really important for them to realise that we as grown-ups get scared sometimes. I think it helps them to know that. They can see that they are not alone. They can see that grown-ups can be afraid but can address the fear and can move on.”

Kate wrote the book in January last year; inevitably this year’s events have added to its relevance: “I would not say that it is fortuitous, and I wish that lockdown hadn’t had to happen. And I would not want to be launching my first book in lockdown, but hopefully it will give chil-dren some comfort and some giggles.

“I also hope that children will see that fears are different for everyone, that what might be fun and carefree for one person might be frightening for somebody else. I am trying to show that empathy you need, particularly coming back from lockdown, particularly engaging with the emotions of other people.

“I have written it with four to seven-year-olds in mind, but it is intended as a shared experience with a grown-up reading it to the children. And I hope it might spark some conversations.”

Kate was delighted to work with illustrator Clare: “She has been fabulous. She is more experienced than I am, and she been great. It has been an incredibly steep learning curve. Every stage has been completely new.”

Superheroes Don’t Get Scared is priced £6.99, published by Upside Down Books.