Neither

Written & Illustrated by: Airlie Anderson

For ages: 4-7 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Community, Acceptance, Identity, Friendship, Self-Acceptance.

Summary: This story takes place in a world where there are only blue bunnies (this) and yellow birds (that), the Land of This and That.  Until one day, a self-described ‘both’ hatches.  This little critter is green, with bunny ears and bird wings.  The others tell Both that they can’t be both, so they must be Neither.  Looking sad, they aren’t allowed to join into any of the rabbity games, or birdy activities.  Neither flies away to find Someplace Else to live, at the birds and rabbits suggestion.  Landing in a new place, Neither first spots a purple cat with butterfly wings, and they show Neither around at all of the combination critters that live in the land.  Called The Land of All, many colorful animals are playing games together.  Inviting Neither to play, Neither is still concerned because no one is green, and they still don’t fit in.  “Exactly!” the other animals shout, smiling and happy.  All of a sudden, a blue bunny and a yellow bird call to the group, they are looking for somewhere else to live.  Neither tells the bunny and bird that they told Neither to find Somewhere Else, looking hurt.  In a twist (and a headstand), Neither tells the other animals that everyone is welcome in the Land of All!

This book can be used in so many different scenarios.  Talking about a new student joining the class, talking about exclusion, differences, gender identity, or any situation where someone might be feeling a little different.  Cute, brightly colored illustrations capture how the animals are feeling, helping with mood identification and empathy development for young children by learning to read expressions.  Overall, an adorable book that teaches a great lesson of inclusion and being yourself!

Reflection Questions:

  • How do you think that Neither felt when the other animals told them to go live Somewhere Else?
  • How would you feel if everyone in your community told you that you didn’t belong?
  • How do you think Neither feels when they find the Land of All?
  • How do you feel when people accept and understand you?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Make up your own dual-animal combination!  In the book there are all sorts of creative and unique critters, design one to also live in the Land of All.
  • Neither was afraid they would never fit in anywhere.  Write a “Welcome Guide” for a new student or community member!  Include important information, landmarks, and public transportation information that a newcomer would find helpful.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

1089609668Airlie Anderson is the author and illustrator of Neither, Cat’s Colors, Momo and Snap Are Not Friends, and many other children’s books. Feathers in my cap: the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, the Independent Publisher Book Award, and the Practical Pre-School Award. Airlie graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design and now live in New Jersey.

Airlie creates her illustrations using gouache (opaque watercolor) on hot press watercolor paper (the smooth kind). Airlie also doodles aimlessly in her sketchbook whenever she can.

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