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Uplifting Picture Books That Don't Preach
Is a Worry Worrying You?
Is a Worry Worrying You?
by Ferida Wolff and Harriet May Savitz, illustrated by Marie Le Tourneau
Do you ever have a worry that won't go away? What is a worry, any way?
A worry is a thought that stops you from having fun, from feeling good, from being happy.
Don't bother looking for a worry because you'll never find it. It is invisible. But it seems very real.
Suppose, just suppose, one hundred elephants come to tea and you discover you don't have any tea bags. Uh, oh. What will you do with a herd of thirsty elephants? Now, that's a worry!
But you can get rid of that worry by offering the elephants lemonade instead.
--Is a Worry Worrying You?, by Ferida Wolff and Harriet May Savitz, illustrated by Marie Le Tourneau, p. 1-5.
This book addresses worries—reminding readers that everyone has them, describing how a worry can feel, and showing some imaginative, creative solutions to worries, which can prompt creative problem solving. The outside-the-box fantastical solutions are reminiscent of Hazbry's How to Get Rid of Bad Dreams (1990). The book also has potentially reassuring reminders, such as that most of the time, a worry never happens, and that a worry is more easy to deal with if you deal with it as soon as you can.
Wolff and Savit's text gives a thoughtful, deep understanding of worry and its affects ("You can feel tired from a worry. Or sad. Or sick. A worry can feel like a heavy sack is on your back. Only it isn't there."). There is also a lighter silliness in this book. For the most part this works well, but sometimes it feels like the two tones are fighting each other—some of the worries or solutions feel light, fun, and amusing, while others feel like blatant analogies to read-kid problems (having a hundred elephants coming to tea and not having tea, as opposed to having a bear-teacher that is scary, having a gorilla take your skateboard in the playground).
The concrete yet imaginative suggestions on how to deal with worry will be familiar to those who've been in therapy, and are worth the price of the book alone ("Seal it in an envelope and mail it away." "Do something else... Write a story. Play with a friend." "Face it." "Discuss your worry with someone else.").
The text feels too long in some places, with unnecessary detail, at times it tells the reader things instead of shows them, or repeats things too close together. It also feels jerky at times, explanations about what worry is or how it doesn't seem to be in quite the right places or flow with the imaginative solutions.
In Le Tourneau's illustrations, worry is personified by a furry blue monster, which helps make it more an imaginative story and less an obvious teaching tool. However, the dull, dark paintings use a lot of greys, browns, dark tones, which, while this may fit with how worry feels, can be gloomy to look at. It would have worked far better for me if the artwork was lighter, especially when a solution was offered. As it is, I find the illustrations a little depressing, and not in keeping with the tone of the book.
This is a thoughtful book that discusses an important issue—worry—and some creative problem solving. While the tone of the text itself, and the text with the art don't always work together well, it's sure to create some discussion or make readers think. It may also offer needed reassurance. Recommended.
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