by & illustrated by
Age Range: 4 - 7
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As a chronic worrier and an extremely anxious young mouse, life is hard for Wemberly. Her worries range from big life issues—what will she do if her parents disappear—to the mundane—what to do if she spills juice on her special doll Petal? Unfortunately her parents, although concerned, are not much help, merely telling her to stop worrying so much, rather than teaching her how to cope with her anxieties. And Wemberly’s well-meaning grandmother just tells her to loosen up and have some fun. Every aspect of life raises new worries for Wemberly—she worries in bed in the morning and evenings, worries as she plays in the yard or reads in a big comfy chair, and worries about the equipment in the playground falling apart. Soon the biggest worry ever in Wemberly’s young life rears its ugly head—nursery school is on the horizon. The concomitant list of worries it engenders is Wemberly’s longest ever (cleverly depicted by a double-paged spread featuring larger and larger type against a background of question marks). The school worries are typical going-to-school fears—what if Wemberly can’t find the bathroom when she needs it, what if she’s the only one who has brought her doll to school, and so on. Funnily, Wemberly’s parents don’t seem to have prepared her very well for starting school—her worries could have been easily addressed had they told her more about what to expect. But amazingly (and not very believably) things go wonderfully well at school after Wemberly meets a kindred spirit, another worried little mouse named Jewel with whom she becomes fast friends. In an overly pat ending, Wemberly happily goes home at the end of her first day of school, already looking forward to the second day. Henkes’s best works—Chrysanthemum (1991) and Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse (1996), among others—are masterpieces, capturing and distilling the essence of universal childhood experiences. Unfortunately, Wemberly Worried doesn’t fall into this category. It’s hard to buy that her personality could undergo so radical a change just because she finds a new friend. Surely a new friendship would bring with it a whole new set of worries. The reader actually feels sorry for Wemberly, who doesn’t seem to be enjoying life very much. Maybe some mouse therapy is called for. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 31st, 2000
ISBN: 0-688-17027-7
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Greenwillow
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2000


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