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Published: 17 Sep 2019

Hardback, 224 pages

Recommended for age 9+ and 11+

By Raina Telgemeier

Published by Scholastic US

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Raina wakes up one night with a terrible upset stomach. It soon becomes clear that Raina's tummy trouble isn't going away... and it coincides with her worries about food, school, and changing friendships. What's going on?

Reviewed by Lucy Timmons

Guts is a graphic novel, which explores the gripping effect anxiety can have on the stomach of any person but in particular a pubescent teenager. Fortunately, we are in an age where anxiety and mental health are not seen as taboo and young people are being encouraged to explore and be open about this very prevalent aspect of being human.

As a young person, I would have completely resonated with this book, and it would have made me feel better knowing I was not alone with those awful feelings in my tummy regarding friendship, home life, emotions, and aversions. This book very sensitively covers all these things but is very much located in the voice of the young protagonist. The images serve to portray the complexities of these emotions perfectly. The voice of the characters is well established. The rhythm of the text accurately aligns with the erratic nature of emotions and anxiety. Raina Telgemeier has fully grasped this and weaved the graphic novel to create this very visceral experience for the reader.

As an educationalist, Guts is a must for any KS2 classroom, if not year 2. For a child, this is a perfect opportunity to be transported, enriched and understood. Friendship, food and day to day school life issues are explored but not romanticised or resolved in a ‘happily ever after’ way. There is an acknowledgement that anxiety can be a life long challenge but that there is hope for anyone suffering in the form of friendship, family and professional help. What this offers to a school is a chance to explore this through the eyes of a child.

Lucy Timmons is a professionally trained actress and Executive Head teacher based in South East London. Her keen passion is the use of 'Rehearsal Room Pedagogy' as both a medium to create a constructivist approach to learning for children and professionals.