Much has been written lately about how to talk to young children about the tragic or scary events they are inevitably exposed to in the news or through their friends. Whimsy’s Heavy Things is a great aid for adults who want to create a safe place to talk about those big, nameless feelings and fears.
Drawn with slightly shaded circles under her large doe eyes, Whimsy is a little girl burdened by four heavy things. The things are dark and round, and no matter how hard she tries, she can’t seem to shake them. They trip her when she hides them under the hall carpet. She ties them up in a tree, and they splinter the branch. She sends them out to sea, but stubs her toe on them while swimming. And, of course, she can’t just ignore them and make them go away.
Then Whimsy has an idea about how to dispense with her heavy things by transforming them into things that help instead of hinder. Her solutions are ingenious, and the ending surprises with a mature little twist that is reassuring as well as realistic.
Every page is sweetly rendered by author and illustrator Julie Kraulis’s oil and graphite artwork, which evokes a softer, gentler version of Tim Burton’s style. The text is easy to follow for early readers, and parents will enjoy how naturally the story flows. The metaphor isn’t strained or forced, and anxious or worried children may find relief in Whimsy’s acceptance of her encumberances. It may also inspire a conversation about empathy for others, and the heavy things we all carry in our hearts.