Friday, 7 December 2018

Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life

Finished November 29
Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life by Beverley Brenna, illustrated by Tara Anderson

This children's novel is told from two points of view. One is that of nine-year-old Jeannie. Jeannie's dad has recently moved out as her parents separated, and Jeannie has a lot of emotions around this: frustration, anger, guilt, sadness. She has wanted a hamster for quite a while and her parents finally agreed to let her get one. She's saved money for it, and for the supplies she'll need for keeping a hamster and looking after one.
The other point of view is that of Sapphire, the hamster that Jeannie gets. Sapphire isn't the name that Jeannie originally picks for it, but one that it is more thoughtful later decision. We see Sapphire's experience in the pet store before she gets chosen, as well as on the trip home, at Jeannie's place, and on various adventures. Sapphire is a bit of a philosopher, and has a goal of freedom, but gradually changes what she defines that as.
We watch how Jeannie struggles with her own feelings, sometimes erupting in frustration, anger, or sadness. And we watch how spending time with Sapphire calms her, and others in her household.
The idea of freedom extends beyond Sapphire into others in the story, who are struggling with the freedom to be who they really are, despite how others may react to them. It's about being able to have that freedom to be comfortable in your own skin, to be happy with your life, and to see that life in a positive way. This extends not only to Jeannie's parents, but also to her neighbour, and gradually friend Anna Conda. Jeannie accepts Anna for who she is, and defends her as well, looking for ways to help others find acceptance too.
This book exposes children to a variety of family types, and opens the door to discussion in a positive way of these differences.
A great addition to any library.

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