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The Tiger Who Sleeps Under My Chair – Hannah Foley

The housekeeper’s grip was like a vice on Emma’s wrist. ‘Well, you’ve caused a right old upset, young lady, I don’t mind telling you. I’ve never seen your father so keen to get out of the house and that’s saying something.’ She half-dragged Emma up the stairs. Emma bit back her tears. Another display of emotion was not going to help. If anything, she was relieved to go back to the attic. It was safest for everyone that she obeyed the doctors’ rules.

1884: Struggling with her mental health, Emma is locked away in the attic of her father’s townhouse in London and misses adventures with her older brother whilst dreaming of being like fossil collector and palaeologist Mary Anning. 2023: In Devon, aspiring footballer Jude finds his classmate Rosie, who has been missing for four days. As the pair form an unlikely friendship, Rosie begins to discover the secrets of her past and discover why she feels so connect to some items left by her grandmother…

Appropriately publishing ready for Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week in February, The Tiger Who Sleeps Under My Chair provides the reader with an unforgettable, authentic exploration into mental health, through a clever dual timeline set between Victorian times and the present. It is shocking to see how Emma’s mental health is treated by those nearest to her back in the past but that equally hooks you in through the questions of her own mother’s mental health and if there’s something going on with her brother when he returns home. Because the Victorians treated mental illness so terribly by shutting people away, you instantly want to support Emma and be empathetic.

Then, in contemporary times, we meet Jude whose own future crashes down around him but yet, in the face of crushing adversity, chooses to comfort Rosie, a classmate he barely knows but has been missing for four days. While a crowd gathers and worries about if she’s dangerous, he steps up to be that support. In difficult times, be a Jude! This book celebrates inclusivity, well-being and empathy and despite the tricky themes, it is honest and shows the power of connections (particularly important when the Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week theme is Let’s Connect).

With such a powerful story, it’s excellent and responsible to see that Hannah does a Q&A around mental health at the end, along with some important websites and phone numbers which can support readers further. Her passion towards society talking more about mental health is clear to see from The Tiger Who Sleeps Under My Chair and this compelling book will certainly generate conversations, both at home and in the classrooms.

Suggested reading age: 9+

The Tiger Who Sleeps Under My Chair is written and illustrated by Hannah Foley. It will be published by Zephyr on 2nd February.

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Published by Tom G

Avid reader. Dad of 2. Husband. Assistant Headteacher.

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