Francis Discovers Possible

Ashlee Latimer (author) and Shahrzad Maydani (illustrator)

Abrams Books: 2022

ISBN: 9781419749100

Age: 4+

Reviewed by Viv Young

Francis loves words! She is looking forward to sharing all the new words she has discovered that start with the letter ‘P’ but when revising the letter ‘F’ some of her classmates call Francis fat in a way that makes her question the meaning of the word.

When Francis’s classmates call her fat, their tone redefines her sense of the word and its associations; it is no longer about rubbing her dog’s belly or being curled up in her mum’s soft arms but something that makes her feel ‘cold’ and ‘small’. Francis does not have to confront these bullies on her own; her teacher calls out the bullies and her dad provides quiet support as she works through her experience and discovers the word ‘possible’.

The idea of possible is fascinating; it takes the reader right away from worries about body image to a much broader interrogation of what really matters in life. Possible becomes a sophisticated concept to think about what makes us feel good and interested in the world; it encourages readers to think what possible might mean for them.

The artwork for Francis Discovers Possible is filled with warm pinks, yellows and oranges reflecting Francis’s feelings about the world, about words and her family. The soft pastel markings are a constant reminder of Francis’s ideas about ‘fat’; that fat is soft and comforting. There is also something of possibility throughout the artworks as thoughts and ideas mingle with reality giving each scene a dream-like quality.

Francis Discovers Possible touches on themes of bullying and body positivity but perhaps most of all it explores the power of language to change how we view ourselves and the world. This is powerful stuff to present to children and talk about with them!

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