3rd June 2005 at 01:00
TALKING ABOUT: BULLYING, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, RACISM, DIVORCE, EATING. PROBLEMS. By Nicola Edwards. Chrysalis Children's Books. pound;5.99 each

Printed under the auspices of Childline, these books are good at setting out problems faced by young children and holding out the possibility of things eventually getting better. These issues are often complex and there are no quick fixes, but the common approach to all problems is to talk about them: talk to someone you trust or contact one of the organisations listed in the back of each book.

Some of the solutions offered have limited practical use. One book suggests joining in sports can help children grow more confident - but it won't if they're no good at sports. There is also the suggestion that "the happier you are, the easier it is to make friends", and that bullies are "unlikely to pick on people who look confident and happy". So get happy, get friends, get rid of bullies! If only life could be that simple.

On the other hand, statements such as, "Children can leave violent backgrounds behind and grow into happy adults," may be just the fillip a child needs. This is where the books score highly - they offer hope.

Many of the excellent full-colour photographs are staged like teen true-life photo stories, which speak to the young reader with great immediacy. The people in them look real.

The large print and clear language is set in an attractive and uncluttered pastel design and the easy to use glossary and index are welcome.

Kevin Harcombe

Headteacher, Redlands primary school, Fareham

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