‘In a perfect world, everyone would cope with life just fine, and no one would be anxious or worried.’ Kathy Hoopman, All Birds Have Anxiety
Most of us can relate to the range of feelings raised and explored in many books. The A to Z of emotions from being afraid or feeling anxious to having lots of energy and feeling zealous and zany are often captured perfectly in a story or picturebook. For young readers learning to develop a vocabulary of emotions there’s something very comforting about relating to a particular story or character. This also provides a good opportunity to discuss reactions in numerous situations and encourages ways to develop various coping mechanisms. Understanding people’s differences and worries, helps to comprehend the associated symptoms that often come with them.
This month we have an excellent collection of perceptive and poignant stories to share. Readers as young as two plus, will enjoy Tom Percival’s Ruby’s Worry. This marvellous uplifting book shows how worries can grow and grow. Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys Under the Love Umbrella is a magnificent analogy for omnipresent love with eye-catching neon illustrations.
For five plus, especially emerging readers who enjoy ‘knock-knock jokes’, Anna Liza and the Happy Practice will cheer you up and make you laugh out loud. Georgina Pritchett’s Wilf the Mighty Worrier series is an entertaining way to help readers overcome their worries. Join Wilf as he battles pirates and jungle animals in his attempt to save the world.
From the publishers of All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome and All Dogs Have ADHD, comes All Birds Have Anxiety. This is a brilliant book for everyone, but in particular for anxious young readers of six plus. The mix of colour photographs and reassuring words is sure to make this emotion relatable to everyone, and bring a smile to young faces.
Sometimes working in a practical way can help to ease furrowed brows, for eight plus, ‘What-to-Do Guides for Kids’ What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety is a simple guide book that offers parents and young readers ways to use cognitive-behaviour techniques to help ease anxiety. ‘What-to-Do Guides for Kids’ books deal with a wide-range of feelings from envy, jealousy, low self-esteem to separation and social anxiety.
Starting school is always a big step, but especially if you have been home-schooled and your mother breathes fire! Nine plus readers, will enjoy following Aidan Mooney’s mishaps and adventures in My Secret Dragon. For young readers familiar with the ‘Black Dog’, Roddy Doyle’s Brilliant validates experiences of depression. Detective fans will be hooked by Lisa Thompson’s Goldfish Boy, as this gripping tale deals with the impact of OCD as well as a thrilling mystery.
Find a comfortable quiet spot, take a deep breath, relax and enjoy the following books.
Síne Quinn, MPhil Children’s Literature, is an editor working with Irish and International publishers and authors, CBI Book Doctor and creative writing teacher for the Bookmarks Programme at TCD.
Davina Bell Illustrated by Allison Colpoys
Under the Love Umbrella
Scribe Uk 2018 (Pbk)
This uplifting story celebrates the joy of love. Readers are asked to find ‘lots of umbrellas inside the book’ to help you with many situations from ‘when dogs bark … friends won’t share and things aren’t fair, there’s always a love umbrella’. With poetic reassurance reiterating the heart-warming message, and neon illustrations that pop off the page, this book is one to be treasured and read over and over again. (Age 2-6)
All Birds Have Anxiety
Jessica Kinglsley Publications 2018 (Hbk) 72pp
This magnificent book highlights people’s different reactions to feeling anxious accompanied by an impressive collection of photographs. Kathy Hoopman’s tone is reassuring and warm, highlighting that this emotion is universal. Through birds’ point of view, the highs and lows, pros and cons of feeling anxious are expressed both wonderfully through textural narrative and visual narrative. The eye-catching photographs of a vast array of birds are funny and adorable. This thoughtful considered book is a compassionate resource for all ages. (Age 6+)
Eoin Colfer Illustrated by Matt Roberston
Anna Liza and the Happy Practice
Little Gems 2016 (Pbk) 96pp
Eoin Colfer fans will love this poignant amusing story about Anna Liza who tries to cheer up her mother’s patients. But when she meets Edward, she has to find other ways to help. Matt Robertson’s lively colourful illustrations add more humour and warmth to this thought-provoking tale. Set in an easy to read font on cream-coloured paper, this story is already another big hit from Little Gems. An ideal read for emerging readers. (Age 5-8)
My Secret Dragon
Little Island Books 2018 (Pbk) 96pp
It’s not always easy to fit in, especially if you’ve just started in a new school and your mother is half dragon! Fans of adventure, especially ones who love dragons, baking and Greek myths, will adore Debbie Thomas’s latest tale or should I say tail … Through friendship, inventing recipes, finding the courage to stand out, but most importantly, standing up for your loved ones, Aidan Mooney overcomes his fears and crippling shame about his family secret. Exploring themes of anxiety, acceptance, isolation and loyalty, with just the right amount of humour thrown in for good measure, My Secret Dragon is sure to become a flaming-hot read for the start of the chilly season. (Age 9+)
For more reviews check out Inis magazine which is published by Children’s Books Ireland, the national children’s books organisation whose vision is an Ireland in which books are central to every child’s life.