Book Reviews: Fear/Worry/Anxiety Helpers

Wemberly Worried
Author: Kevin Henkes
Interest Level: Ages 4-8

From the Book Jacket: Wemberly worried about everything. Big things. Little things. And things in between. Then it was time for school to start. And Wemberly worried even more. If you ever worry (or know someone who does), this is the book for you.

Why It's On My Bookshelf: Constant worrying is a definite problem. There are children struggling with this which makes me  so thankful for Wemberly Worried and all of it's healing qualities. When I was reading Is a Worry Worrying You? to a group of second graders last year, a few kids raised their hands and said, "Yes, just like Wemberly!" This story has IMPACT. I had never even read Wemberly Worried to the class but the teacher had two copies of it in her book library for her students. I definitely own it now! So through Wemberly I've been helping kids understand it's okay to have a worry here and there. But when we are agonizing over everything small, medium, and big....Houston, we've got a problem! Call me crazy, but I believe kids have the ability to recognize when they have gone over the edge with too much worrying. How? Through the aid of a book like Wemberly Worried. Wemberly also has a coping mechanism and finds a friend struggling with worry too. Don't overlook this one, it's not just another cute Kevin Henkes story. It has healing power.

Absolutely Not
Author: Matthew McElligott 
Interest Level: Ages 4-8

From the Book Jacket: Gloria is brave, but Frieda is absolutely not. Gloria wants to go for a walk, but Frieda absolutely does not. Frieda sees danger in every shadow, and you might, too! But when Frieda cries wolf one too many times, Gloria stops listening to her. Yet...what's that in the bushes? Are the two friends in danger, or is it another figment of Frieda's imagination?

Why It's On My Bookshelf: This is new to my shelf. I was at my local bookstore and asked for suggestions on stories about anxiety. Don't you love it when the person helping you gets really excited and says, "Ohhhhhh, have you read Absolutely Not?" Um, NO, but lead me to it!!! After I read this story I said to myself, "This is pure genius." So the character Frieda says a big fat NO to everything. She is paralyzed with fear and worry. She worries about all the things that could happen. Her imagination runs wild! In the end, there is a little twist where they are actually put in danger. HOWEVER (big however here), isn't that sort of life? We can't protect ourselves from everything. But there is no need to go around stressing out about it. We have to deal with what comes our way. I want to teach the students these invaluable lessons. Can't wait to present this story to them!

PS. Go to the author's website for a lesson plan on optimism vs pessimism. Great to go with book!

Roly Poly Pangolin
Author: Anna Dewdney
Interest Level: Ages 4-8

From the Book Jacket: Roly Poly is a little guy, and the world is a big place. So many things frighten him, even teeny, tiny sounds! What's a little pangolin to do? Roll up tight into a ball and wait until it's safe. But when Roly Poly finally peeks out, there's another ball peeking back - and it looks just like him! Could two be more fun than one? The author of the beloved Llama Llama books introduces an endearing new character who is sure to enchant children and help them explore the world more happily.

Why It's On My Bookshelf: I read MANY children's book blogs, one of my favorites is THE PLANETESME PLAN - The Best New Children's Books from Esme's Shelf. That's where I discovered this great book Roly Poly Pangolin. And yep, Roly Poly is one scared little dude! This is going to be perfect for kindergarten and 1st grade. I see a lot of separation anxiety in those grades. It's rough being pulled away from parents and put with a bunch of adults and kids we don't know. Some kids adjust no problemo and others have a tougher time. I am planning on exploring shyness, fear, and friendship with this delightful story. If only there was a Pangolin puppet!

When My Worries Get Too Big!
Author: Kari Dunn Buron

About This Book: The thought of "losing control" can cause major problems for children who live with anxiety. Now, parents, teachers and children have a helpful tool that gives young children an opportunity to explore their own feelings with parents or teachers as they react to events in their daily lives. Engaging and easy to read, this illustrated children's book is filled with opportunities for children to participate in developing their own self-calming strategies. Children who use the simple strategies in this charming book, illustrated by the author, will find themselves relaxed and ready to focus on work - or play!

Why It's On My Bookshelf: I was planning on doing a separate blog post on this book but I want to talk about it now. I've been using this as a social story to teach kids how to cope with stress and put their anxiety in it's place. This is a tool I use in collaboration with parents and teachers. It makes no sense for me to teach this by myself if we're not all using it as a united front. I've used it in small groups and individually. There is a five point stress scale and it is awesome and helpful to children. Kids who are on the spectrum or have anxiety disorders could really benefit from reading this every day. I've seen a lot of success with this social story. Share it with the parents first and see if they would be on board to use it as a tool. Very grateful for this one. Helps me be a better school counselor.


  1. I love the cover of "Absolutely Not" by Matthew McElligot. Who is the Illustrator? I see it can be purchased in paperback, are there more illustrations in the book?

  2. The author is the illustrator and the pictures are really cool and I know will be engaging to kids. Here is a link to his website where he talks more about the illustrations:


  3. Wemberly Worried is one of my favorites too! I'm so pleased to find your blog - I think that you and I are doing similar work, and I look forward to learning more from you and to your book about adoption.