A girl discovers that worry can be a good thing—as long as you don’t let it control you—in this installment of the Building Resilience series by Australian author-illustrator Harmony (The Cat’s Got My Tongue, 2015, etc.).
Sal has a pet monster that makes her worry about everything, including the dark, being laughed at, getting hurt or sick, and losing her parents’ love when she misbehaves. The young girl is afraid of ghosts, storms, and even loneliness, but she realizes that all this worrying makes her feel sick and upset. When she confesses her feelings to her mother, Mum gives her one of her old friends as a companion: a knight named Brave. With Brave by her side, Sal learns how to confront her fears and not let her worry get the best of her. Harmony introduces a rare concept for a children’s book: that Brave and Worry aren’t enemies, but a team: “Worry tries to keep me safe from harm, / But Brave will tell me when to truly listen to the alarm.” The rhymes are sometimes a bit off (“Worry”/”wary”; “Worry”/”sorry”; “pals”/”tails”), and the rhythm isn’t always consistent (“Brave followed me around from that day on. / Worry is there but Brave makes me feel like a light shone, / In my dark bedroom / that I thought was doom”). But the concepts here will be very familiar to young readers, and learning a coping mechanism to address one’s fears is valuable. Worry hides on every page of this book, even after Brave shows up, and his tentacles will be a delight for young readers to find. They also work as a metaphor: the tentacles never grab Sal in a frightening way, but the idea that worries can wrap themselves tightly around a person will be clear. Activities at the end of the book encourage children to draw their own version of the Worry monster, and a page for parents offers tips on how to comfort a child overtaken by worry.
This volume, though not an essential purchase, will likely be useful for school counselors who want to recommend titles to youngsters struggling with anxiety.