Lessons of a LAC

written by Lynn Jenkins

illustrated by Kirrili Lonergan

Reviewed by Inda Ahmad Zabri

This picture book is aimed at addressing the problem of anxiety and worry. We are introduced to Loppy, a peculiar-looking creature with stringy limbs and exaggerated eyes and lips. He lives with other LACs – an entire mountain tribe of Little Anxious Creatures, trained to anticipate trouble and danger.

Loppy and his mates are taught self-defeating phrases such as ‘I’m never going to be able to’ and ‘I don’t think I can’, while on the other side of the mountain, their rivals the Calmsters are taught soothing phrases such as ‘It’s okay,’ ‘I can do it,’ and ‘Breathe.’ Loppy encounters a Calmster named Curly after spying on the rivals, the very act itself throwing him into throes of anxiety. Curly suggests to him that the world is not out to get him and that he can afford to calm down with strategies such as deep breathing and affirmative phrases.

Though many may think of anxiety and worry as a plague of the adult world, they are  startlingly common in children and often go either undetected or unaddressed.  Jenkins has done a good job of including identifying negative thoughts into the narrative, as well as describing the symptoms that a child may experience – ‘Loppy’s heart beat faster, his arms and legs went stiff and his breathing became rapid.’

Lonergan has chosen a minimalist approach to the characters with features reminiscent of Dr Seuss. The colour palate is kept to a minimum, and Loppy’s stretchy limbs loop around the text in a way that breaks it up into manageable chunks of information. The uncomplicated artwork may not necessarily help the book jump off the shelves, but the message that it brings in an important one and is relayed to children in simple story form.

There are many children who may see themselves in Loppy, and will be happy to learn about big belly breaths and be reassured that disaster isn’t actually around every corner.

EK Books 2018, picture book, hardcover $19.99

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