Francesca Sanna’s Me and My Fear

h1 March 14th, 2018 by jules


Here’s a treat for any 7-Imp readers who, like me, read and enjoyed Italian illustrator and graphic designer Francesca Sanna’s award-winning The Journey, released in 2016. If you didn’t read this striking story of a refugee family, Sanna’s picture book debut, you can read more about it here in a post I wrote at Kirkus that year. (And I posted art from it here.)

Sanna will be back this year with a follow-up story about a young girl experiencing life in a new country. She’s an immigrant in a new city with a new neighborhood to explore and a new school to attend, struggling to acclimate. The book, Me and My Fear (Flying Eye Books), will be on shelves this September. (I was fortunate to read an early copy.) Evidently, Francesca received a grant to work with the Centre for the Study of Internationalism (the Reluctant Internationalists project at Birkbeck, University of London) and spent a year in classrooms with immigrant children. The result of that is this new picture book, which is a raw, tender story about fear, something to which all children certainly can relate, immigrants or not. To be sure, though, this is specifically about the immigrant experience — when the teacher can’t pronounce your name and when you can’t understand others (even that one kid, who kindly tries to befriend you). Even worse, no one can understand you.



Sanna literally personifies fear in this story, capturing the girl’s interior life in the form of a blob-like creature who walks with her. As you can see on the cover (above) and the few spreads here today, she paints Fear as a small, pale creature, who grows as the girl’s trepidation grows. “I have always had a secret,” Sanna writes. “A tiny friend called Fear.” The girl attempts to adjust to life with the ever-evolving creature, trying to manage her loneliness and frustration as well. The ending is a hopeful one — and a reminder that we’re all in this together — but I won’t spoil it.

Here a few more spreads, showcasing Sanna’s captivating and stylized illustrations. …


“I have always had a secret. A tiny friend called Fear.”
(Click to enlarge spread)


(Click either image to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)


“But since we came to this new country, Fear isn’t so little anymore.
She keeps growing and growing.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


“At break time, Fear keeps me all to herself.”
(Click to enlarge spread)


* * * * * * *

ME AND MY FEAR. Text and illustrations © Francesca Sanna 2018. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Flying Eye Books, London.

4 comments to “Francesca Sanna’s Me and My Fear

  1. Much like Dan Santat’s AFTER THE FALL, this picture book seems to move looking at emotions from merely observing that we have feelings into acknowledging them as separate, troubling entities, capable of overwhelming. The illustrations identifying the fear as something which grows, and, in a parody of loving behavior, keeps Sanna “all to herself,” are spot on, and a very clever way to articulate the isolation anxiety creates. Whether or not Sanna’s anxiety is just momentary or diagnosable disorder isn’t the point, but *I* feel like this would have been helpful for ME as a pre-diagnosis child to say “this is how I feel.”

  2. Hi there, just wondering when and where I can purchase this book? 😊

  3. Tanita, YES. There is a closing author’s note about Francesca’s own struggles with anxiety. (“I am a very anxious person, and at times when working on this book my fear would grow too big, and grip me too tightly. I would not have succeeded without the precious help of many people. …”)

    Bree, it will be on shelves in September. This is a sneak-peek. I usually avoid posting about books so early that readers can’t go and get them, but I am sorry — I couldn’t help myself today! Love Sanna’s work.

  4. wow. this looks like a really amazing book. thank you!

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