The Small Things

Anna has become very anxious about being around her friends at school. It’s not that they aren’t nice; it’s just that Annas’ life seems very dull when compared to theirs. Her family can’t afford dance classes, swim teams or horseback-riding lessons. When Anna is around them, she feels small. A new girl, Ellie, joins the class and Anna is picked to befriend her. Ellie can’t attend school in person, so she arrives in class as a new, special kind of robot. Anna is sure she just isn’t interesting enough to be a good friend to Ellie – they won’t have anything to talk about. So, when Ellie asks her a question, Anna lies, again and again. It’s quite easy to lie to a robot. It doesn’t take long for her lies to unravel, however, and Anna wonders… will Ellie still want to be her friend?

This story highlights a spread of issues such as mental health and social pressure in an easy, compassionate way with sprinkles of humour and heart. Anna, a typical young girl, finds herself dealing with growing feelings of anxiety. She is a gentle soul, clearly talented and intelligent, but some circumstances are outside of her control, and this brings uncertainty to her sense of self and how others see her. Her unsuccessful attempt to reinvent herself through lies only serves to heighten her fears. But kindness from a friend whose situation is more complicated that Annas’ finally brings her to self-acceptance. Beautifully written, heartfelt, relatable and wise.