Violet Shrink by Christine Baldacchino

Violet Shrink by Christine Baldacchino
Publisher: Groundwood Books
Genre: Children’s (0 – 6 y.o.), Contemporary
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Violet Shrink doesn’t like parties. Or bashes, or gatherings. Lots of people and lots of noise make Violet’s tummy ache and her hands sweat. She would much rather spend time on her own, watching the birds in her backyard, reading comics or listening to music through her purple headphones. The problem is that the whole Shrink family loves parties with loud music and games and dancing.

At cousin Char’s birthday party, Violet hides under a table and imagines she is a shark gliding effortlessly through the water, looking for food. And at Auntie Marlene and Uncle Leli’s anniversary bash, Violet sits alone at the top of the stairs, imagining she is a slithering snake way up in the branches.

When Violet learns that the Shrink family reunion is fast approaching, she musters up the courage to have a talk with her dad.
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In this thoughtful story about understanding and acceptance, Violet’s natural introversion and feelings of social anxiety are normalized when she and her father reach a solution together. Christine Baldacchino’s warm text demonstrates the role imagination often plays for children dealing with anxiety, and the power of a child expressing their feelings to a parent who is there to listen. Carmen Mok’s charming illustrations perfectly capture Violet’s emotions and the vibrancy of her imagination. A valuable contribution to books addressing mental health.

Not everyone likes loud parties, and that’s perfectly okay.

Introversion and social anxiety aren’t the same thing, but some kids do fit into both categories. I liked reading Violet’s descriptions of how overstimulated and overwhelmed she felt by even the most well-meaning parties due these factors. They were exactly how I felt about parties as a kid, and they’re not always easy emotions to put into words at that age.

Some of the best scenes to me were the ones that showed how Violet used her imagination to cope with gatherings that were too much for her. She has such a creative way of explaining how she was feeling and what she wished could have happened instead in those moments. I’d love to read a sequel someday to find out if she grows up to be a poet or something. She certainly had the artistic flair for it!

The only thing better than those scenes were the ones that explored how Violet’s father reacted to his daughter’s strong dislike of parties. He already knew they were something she was trying to avoid, but he didn’t know why. I couldn’t wait to see how his approach to parenting her might change once he realized that this was a much bigger deal to her than he’d originally thought. Honestly, his reaction alone was enough to give this book a five-star rating. That’s how perfect it was for Violet and for anyone reading this who wonders how to help shy or anxious children adapt to overstimulating environments.

I’d heartily recommend Violet Shrink to kids who struggle with parties for any of the reasons mentioned above in this review. This was such a warm, reassuring book about children’s mental health and how the adults in their lives can help them cope better.

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