Two years ago I was lucky to attend an SCBWI workshop with Susanne Gervay, author of new picture book, The Boy in the Big Blue Glasses. Susanne talked about writing books that deal with situations like bullying and illness as well as books that deal with diversity and inclusion. It was an interesting workshop which also focussed on how books can be used to help children deal with sensitive and unfamiliar situations, just like Sammy in this story.
The Story: Sammy’s new glasses make his ears hurt and he doesn’t like wearing them. His family tell him that he looks handsome but he doesn’t want to be handsome, he just wants to be himself. The only person who still sees him as Sammy is his best friend, George, who treats him the same as he did before he had glasses.
But one day George is sick and doesn’t come to school. Sammy has nobody to play with and it’s a tough day until he discovers that humour and laughing can help him and his classmates get used to his glasses.
Sammy’s feelings are made clear right from the beginning of the book ‘I don’t want glasses.’ he says. His confidence has been knocked by this new situation and he doesn’t want his friends and relatives to think of him as handsome or as a new superhero. He doesn’t like being different and he wants people to recognise him as himself. He does his very best to lose his glasses but his plans are thwarted by his parents and his teacher, Mrs May, insists that he wears them at school.
We love Marjorie Crosby-Fairall’s illustrations, especially the way that she evokes so many different emotions through the expressions on Sammy’s face. We have so much sympathy for him and can identify with his feelings of isolation as he tries to come to terms with his new situation. We just wanted to give him a hug when we first saw this picture.
Sharks, pirate ships and superhero capes are woven into the story and add familiarity to an unfamiliar situation. Sammy wants to be defined by who he is and not what he looks like, ultimately he accepts that he needs his glasses to see properly but he also finds a way to convince his friends that he isn’t different, he’s just somebody who wears glasses.
The Boy in the Big Blue Glasses is a fabulous picture book for stimulating conversation with a child who is wearing glasses for the first time. It can also be used in a classroom to develop discussions about empathy and why some children may need glasses or other supports like hearing or mobility aids. Susanne has written a great set of teachers’ notes to help support classroom learning that can be stimulated by this story.
Age Range: 5 +
Thank you to Exisle Publishing for sending us a copy of this book. It is a great story for helping children to develop empathy with friends and classmates who wear glasses.