Me, in the Middle
Annette Demetriou and Angela Mayers
Annette Demetriou’s story has its origins in a childhood experience of her own that caused her to feel she didn’t visually fit into a category.
The little girl, protagonist Georgie belongs to a mixed heritage family: her father’s family are from Uganda and have brown skin; her mother’s family presumably from England, have light skin. When Georgie’s class are having an outdoor lesson on the topic of families one day and their teacher asks them all to go and stand within the chalk outline of the country their parents come from, she has a dilemma and it’s one that leaves her feeling upset as the lesson concludes. ‘Maybe I didn’t belong … anywhere?’ she thinks to herself.
Back at home she’s reluctant to begin working on the family tree Miss Clark has set as homework but her parents soon come to her assistance suggesting the use of photographs and the end product is beautiful – ‘full of colour and so wide, it stretched all the way across the Atlantic Ocean, from England … to East Africa … with me in the middle,’ she says excitedly.
Next day at school, Georgie is proud to show and explain her family tree to the class.
Her teacher’s response is hugely positive and wise as she tells the children that they should never judge a person by external characteristics. ‘We are SO MUCH MORE than what can be seen at first glance,’ she says.
The following day Miss Clark takes the children to the park where, after a ‘family dishes’ picnic, they look at the various trees and compare them to their own family trees ( I love that idea)
and Georgie comes to the realisation that while difference can be special and exciting, people have many things in common too and that’s just fine.
The pride in her roots felt by the protagonist is something everyone should be able to feel and this story, with its wealth of diverse characters as portrayed by Angela Mayers, will help children understand that there are a multitude of ways to make a family unit and that each one is special. Angela’s depictions of Georgie’s changing feelings are beautifully captured throughout.
Definitely a book to add to family bookshelves and primary class collections. In the latter it would make an excellent resource for a topic on families.