Expat Book Review: Sammy’s Next Move, Helen Maffini

It hadn’t occurred to me until recently how few books are written for young expat children facing another international move. Once you start to look around the dearth of literature is obvious.

Which is why I picked up this book.

Having some experience of living oversea I was interested in two things – who had written it and how they’d encompassed the huge variety of places, people and cultures experienced by global nomads in one small book.

The author, Helen Maffini is well qualified personally and professionally.

I am a ‘third culture kid’ myself having spent 2 years in Japan as a child. I also have two of my own TCK’s, Francesca, 8 and Alexandra, 15 who have now lived in 7 and 9 countries respectively. I am an educational consultant currently studying for my doctorate, looking at emotional resilience in TCK children. I am a certified Emotional Intelligence trainer and co-author of the book Developing Children’s Emotional Intelligence.

As an education consultant I have worked with many children in International schools in the countries I have lived in. I realized that there was not a book written for these children, to help with their emotions during an overseas move. The idea came to me to write a book with the snail as the character as a snail carries his home on his back just as a TCK makes home wherever he/she lands!”

She was recently interviewed by Jo Parfitt (from where these quotes were taken) and will talk about herself and the book on Jo’s Writers Abroad radio show on the Women’s Information Network in a couple of weeks time.

So to the book itself.

Not having any young children in my life at present, I handed the book over to a professional who works with elementary school children at the American School of The Hague and a child psychology student who is a TCK herself, to ask their opinions.

The book gives no indication as to the age range of intended readers but following their advice and my gut instinct as a mother, it would be ideal up to the age of 7. It is something to read with children, although once read, a treasured touchstone for a child to hold close.

Sammy is a young snail facing yet another move who explores his emotions about the adventure to come and how he has handled moving in the past. The excitement of researching a new place is balanced by feelings of loss and sadness at what must be left behind.

It is beautifully balanced, validating and addressing the emotions any child feels on hearing the news their family will be moving to a new country. At each point in the story there are opportunities for parents/ teachers to talk to children about feelings they may not be able to verbalize, a huge hurdle with younger children.

The illustrations are wonderful and designed to pull a child in and engage with the book before reading it.

At the back of the book Helen has included a couple of pages of tips for parents of TCKs and some project ideas for handling the move.

This is a wonderful book and I’d thoroughly recommend it to anyone contemplating a move with a young child. For the record, both my professionals loved this book and my educator at ASH enthused that it would be fabulous tool for group discussions in school.

If you’re reading this because you have a child and you’re looking for resources in helping them deal with an overseas move, I would also highly recommend Emotional Resilience and the Expat Child, by Julia Simens which I reviewed a while ago.

Sammy’s Next Move is available in print and kindle format, but a major appeal of the book are the superb illustrations by Mike Swaim so I can’t recommend the Kindle (UK) version.

Pack both these books and you can’t go wrong.

Sammy’s Next Move (click for amazon link)

  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Createspace (22 Jan 2011)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 1456495011
  • ISBN-13: 978-1456495015
  • Product Dimensions: 25.4 x 17.8 x 0.2 cm

About wordgeyser

Our anglo/american family used to live in four countries (USA, Canada, UK and the Netherlands) on two continents, separated by distance, time zones, circumstance and cultures. It has been a scary, enriching, challenging place to be. The only things guaranteed to get us through were a sense of humour and the amazing people met along the way. . . This year everything changed with a move for us from the Netherlands, – and a move along with us for our son and his wife from the UK – to Houston, Texas, the same city as our daughter. With our youngest in Vancouver, Canada, we are now all living on the same continent. How this happened, and more importantly why, will be the subject of this ongoing blog...
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4 Responses to Expat Book Review: Sammy’s Next Move, Helen Maffini

  1. Thanks for the post. It is so important to have good books for the kids (and for the parents) on these subjects. Let’s get the word out! greetings

  2. Glad to read about a great new book on one of my favorite subjects: emotional resilience. Thanks for spreading the news.

  3. Jo Parfitt says:

    Thanks for the mention, Jane. I really like this book and look forward to interviewing Helen for my radio show next week. It takes a lot of hard work and guts to write and publish a book, but Helen has passion for her subject and it shows.

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