Nervous Nigel

Nervous Nigel
Bethany Christou
Templar Publishing

Bethany Christou’s follow-up to Slow Samson is another winner, even if her young crocodile protagonist is not.

Nigel comes from a long line of water-sport champions and like the rest of his family, Nigel loves to swim and his favourite spot for relaxing and thinking is in the water.

However once he has to start following a training regime, he gets butterflies in his tummy and his tail is all a-tremble, but he daren’t let on to the family.

Then comes the news. Nigel is to take part in his very first competition:

no wonder he has a sleepless night and no matter what he does or says there’s no getting out of it.

When race day dawns Nigel is a complete nervous wreck.

There’s absolutely no way he can take that dive from the starting blocks, so what will he do?

Is there perhaps something else water-related that he can enjoy

and at the same time make his family proud without winning medals?

Suffering from anxiety is part and parcel of growing up so most little ones will appreciate Nigel’s plight; so too will adult sharers who, one hopes put children’s happiness and self-fulfilment above reflected glory.

Bethany Christou’s wonderfully expressive, warm illustrations have a gentle humour that underscores her message about allowing children to be themselves and follow their own paths.

Slow Samson

Slow Samson
Bethany Christou
Templar Books

Samson’s favourite activity is spreading happiness as a consequence of which he has lots of friends and many party invitations.

However this is problematic as he frequently stops on route to a venue to help a fellow animal or merely for a friendly chat.

This tardiness causes him to miss out on all the fun, not to mention the cake at Terry’s birthday bash.

Samson resolves to do better and hurry to the next party. True to his word, he dashes past all those in need but still when he arrives, the party is over; worse though without his help, others had suffered. Poor Samson sobs, despairing he’ll ever be on time on account of his slowness.

Unbeknown to the sloth, Samson’s friends are concerned and after considerable thought, come up with a plan. An invitation is sent and Samson decides that despite his lack of speed, he just cannot disappoint his pals.

Next day, off he sets but he doesn’t rush – his friends do however, causing him to feel bad; but on he goes – slowly, slowly, convinced he’ll be very late. But is he?

For fear of being a party pooper, I’ll leave the little creature dangling and you deciding for yourself.

What I will say is that with its rainforest setting, debut picture book creator Bethany Christou’s warm-hearted tale of altruism, friendship, determination, kindness (and the odd piece of cake – oops!) is a great read aloud and a perfect starting point for discussions with young listeners.

I love the expressively portrayed animals especially Samson, and there’s plenty of gently humorous detail to enjoy in every scene as well as in the playful endpapers.