Nervous Nigel

Nervous Nigel

Nervous Nigel
Bethany Christou

Templar Publishing

ISBN 9781787416611

Nigel loves swimming. The water is his favourite place to float and think. But he doesn't like swimming competitions. As soon as the whistle blows, his heart starts hammering, his tail starts trembling and his teeth start chattering. Can Nigel find the courage to tell his family how he really feels?

Librarian's Book choice

Nervous Nigel is a lovely picture book that carries an important message for children - and adults - alike; that children shouldn't be afraid to talk about how they really feel, and that as adults, we should be better listeners.

Nigel, a young crocodile, is surrounded by high achievers; his family are all top swimmers, divers and racers. But while Nigel loves the water, racing makes him very nervous.

Bethany Christou's illustrations perfectly highlight how Nigel tries - and fails - to explain to his family how he feels, and how nervous he is the day before his first race. Nigel doesn't want to let them down, but they won't listen to what he is trying to tell them. Sure enough, the race is a disaster - but at least his family is now listening, and finally Nigel finds his own way to succeed in the water.

Very often children are nervous about trying to explain how they feel about something and as adults, we fail to listen properly, so this is a gentle reminder that we all need to be better listeners. The story is also important for its message to children that expressing their feelings is important, and this picture books could be used to encourage children to talk about their feelings and why they might find it challenging to say what they feel.

Rather than finding ways to overcome nerves in order to do what is expected of him, Nigel does what makes him happiest, and succeeds in a different way, so this story can also be used to explore how we all have different talents, and different things to be proud of.

As Nigel manages to find his own path, the final spreads are a gorgeous confirmation of his individuality and self-awareness; look out for the home made certificates and cups on the end pages, too, which are a lovely touch.

This is a gorgeous picture book with an important message for us all.

Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Ellen Green


Nervous Nigel5/5

Nervous Nigel

Bethany Christou


Anyone who has ever felt out of their depth, lacking in confidence, or afraid to let others down, will identify with Nigel, the crocodile. He comes from a family with a long and proud tradition of winning at the aquatic disciplines. Although he loves swimming, for him, it is a time of reflection and relaxation. The problem is, he is under pressure to achieve in swimming competitions and is subjected to a well-meaning but demanding training regime, which takes all the fun out of it. When he is entered into his first competition, although he has the support of his whole family, Nigel is overcome by feelings of panic.

He tentatively shares his worries with his family. They are a little baffled at the idea that one of their number may not want to be a champion, and don't take his anxieties seriously. The day of the competition, and the moment of truth comes. Poor Nigel is too nervous to start the race and runs away, convinced that he has disappointed everyone.

An encounter with a sympathetic frog provides the affirmation he needs and leads Nigel to launch the 'Floating Transport and Scenic Tours' business. This proves to be the perfect career path, enabling Nigel to be himself, do what he enjoys, and use his skills to help others. Despite his fears, his family could not be prouder of him, and they celebrate his achievement amongst the family trophies.

Great illustrations depict a very expressive Nigel, as he experiences a range of emotions. Contrasting scenes successfully convey the excitement of the swimming race spectators, and the solo experience of night-time worries. The heart-warming family hug on the final page is a truly satisfying ending. A wonderfully positive story of finding your true path in life.

Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Judith Greenall, librarian

Reviewed by: Judith Greenall