Fantastic Florence, it’s not your fault

Review by Rachel Walker, Primary School Teacher

Lesley Millard Zafran. (2021). Authorhouse.

Fantastic Florence is the creation of three extraordinary women who believe in the power of storytelling to help children who experience trauma and find themselves dealing with difficult situations. A writer, a therapist, and an educator - their voices unite in Florence’s energy and insight. 

How many of us would rush home to tell our toys the good and bad things that happened when we first started school? How many of us still do this, venting to a blog, journal or diary, having a one-sided discussion to release our inner thoughts that we don’t want to burden others with? This story has a very clever way of ‘tapping into’ the mind of a child who is being bullied and is too ashamed to reach out and ask for help. Positioning an inanimate object as the main source of help and comfort will potentially help make connections and raise awareness that it is OK to ask for help. 

I read this story to my class of 6 and 7 year olds and they responded with interest. They discussed with their peers the meaning behind the story and talked about who they would talk to if they were unhappy in general, not just from being bullied. We also observed the way Ella chose to avoid attention by wearing plain coloured clothes when she was given bright new clothes; they all looked at what they were wearing and talked about how they stand out in different ways. 

This is an easy read and relevant for many age groups. The language was accessible for little people and the pictures were very sweet. The simplicity of the positive messages that can make someone feel so much better about themselves is a reminder to all of us that when you are being bullied, it’s not your fault!

The Mental Health Foundation’s Information Service brings you reviews this Pink Shirt Day on books with bullying prevention themes.

More book reviews
Fantastic Florence cover
Download PDF

“Kōrero Mai, Kōrero Atu, Mauri Tū, Mauri Ora – Speak Up, Stand Together, Stop Bullying!”