Criticism can be crippling

(Image courtesy Pat Whelan/42 North)
Susan Nuttall, author of illustrated children’s book, Too, held a book launch party recently at the William Street Café that saw a large turnout to help her celebrate her first book.

“…for I am amazing in so many ways!

Too bad you can see it with your short-sighted gaze.

Go broaden your horizon!

Expand your mind’s view!

Your limits on me are reflective of you!”

– Excerpt from “Too” by Susan Nuttall

After years of working with people in the probation system in Chatham-Kent, author Susan Nuttall has many insights into human behaviour and how criticism can have a crippling effect on a person’s sense of worth.

Now retired after 32 years as a probation officer, Nuttall has published her first illustrated children’s book, “Too,” that encourages people of all ages to value their uniqueness and celebrate their differences.

The launch of her book took place earlier this month in Chatham to a large turnout of people, and Nuttall took some time to talk to The Chatham Voice about her inspiration and experience in publishing her first book.

The author said in her experience working with people, young and adults alike, their perception of criticism that told them they weren’t enough was a focal point throughout their lives. Changing that perception of themselves by looking beyond the words to the person behind them, she said, is key to having a healthy self-image.

“When talking about criticism they endured, they could tell you who said it, how old they were, where they were and the effect it had on them, so words have power,” Nuttall explained. “I thought the best way to reach children, or adults, was to write a book to tell them, ’You are amazing just the way you are,’” the author said, pointing to words she put on the back of her new book.

She noted that in society today, if you don’t achieve the highest accolades for achievement, you’re perceived as not good enough, which is an attitude that needs to stop. She believes if people who endure criticism feel like they have achieved something good just the way they are, they will appreciate the uniqueness of others.

“I’m very passionate about it, because having seen people profoundly affected by criticism, I thought if we can change people’s mind, then we can change their action. That’s what we learned from probation – change the mind, change the action or reaction,” Nuttall shared.

She said she published the book with the hope of changing a child’s mind, or an adult, because she said people of all ages suffer the effects of criticism. In one instance, her book is being used as a counselling tool to help people value their own worth.

“I don’t know where it’s going to go; it’s pretty new, but it’s my hope that people are going to use the book to inspire themselves to appreciate their own uniqueness, and in doing so, they can appreciate others,” Nuttall explained.

The book, Too, illustrated by Mark Uhre, and published by Friesen Press, is a colourful, easy-to-read and inspiring offering by Nuttall that will appeal to people of all ages. It encourages the reader to take a good look at the source of criticism in their life and know soul-deep that it is just another person’s brief, unfounded view of you.

“The words resonate, I think, with all of us, and it’s not limited to children. I think it has a wide range of attraction to people, which I didn’t expect,” the author said. “I wrote it years ago, after reading an article on Denzel Washington and I was annoyed to think that people had to put up with that kind of criticism and I just said, ‘Enough;” these people are profoundly impacted by your ugly words.”

“I want to say to people who criticize that your words have a long-lasting impact on another individual,” she added. “Personally, I think we should be inspiring people instead of holding them back, because ultimately, when you inspire someone to reach their goals, they pull you up with them.”

An important message in our Canadian society, Nuttall noted, is that we have to appreciate things such as cultural and gender differences, in order to get along and make it work.

The author was thankful for the tremendous support she received from family and friends who encouraged her to publish the book, with more to come in the future.

Nuttall’s book is available on or, at Barnes and Noble or by going to The author will also be at RetroFest in Chatham on June 22, reading in the Children’s Tent.


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