Sunday 21 June 2020

Tom’s Tears

Tom’s Tears written and illustrated by Teigan Margetts (Ethicool Books) ISBN 9780648702443 PB $19.00 RRP

Reviewed by Nean McKenzie

Tom’s Tears is a picture book that explores the gender stereotype of ‘boys don’t cry’ with an engaging story about a boy who believes he has lost his tears. With colourful illustrations that show up close facial expressions, the story follows the two main characters, Tom and Oliver, who have been given different advice by their fathers about what to do when they feel upset. Oliver decides to help Tom find his tears and as they look for them, Tom works out himself what he wants to do when he feels emotional.

Tom explains to his friend Oliver, ‘My dad told me that I’m not allowed to cry. He said I needed to be a real man. He said that if I cried, it would make me a girl.’ While not as prevalent as in previous generations, this attitude is still around in our society and it is good to see a book exploring the issue. Tom explains to Oliver (who is slightly mystified by this explanation) that because his older brother ‘lost his tears’ a few years ago, now he just gets angry and kicks things – including his brother. To prevent this from happening to Tom, the two friends search for Tom’s tears in the skate park, the playground and in the woods. They go back to Oliver’s house, and watch a movie … and find Tom’s tears. It’s a happy ending.

A note in the back of the book states that ‘Men who feel they can’t express their emotions are more likely to be depressed and violent.’ This is followed by ‘What are you going to do today?’ The suggestion that the child can do something to make things different, puts a positive slant on the situation and the power back in the children’s hands.

Teigan Margetts founded Ethicool books this year with her partner Stu French. Their goal is to produce books for children that deal with world issues and to increase their understanding of ways to change things. Tom’s Tears is suitable for preschoolers and early primary-aged children.

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