Sunday 28 June 2015

Worries Go Away!

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The story of a little girl, with some very big worries.

Book Details
Title: Worries Go Away!
Author: Kes Gray, Illustrator: Lee Wildish
Hodder Childrens Books 2014

Library copy reviewed

Back of book:
For every child who has worries - BIG and SMALL-comes this compelling and comforting story. From the bestselling team behind Leave Me Alone and Mum and Dad Glue. 

The story: Through rhyme, a little girl tells us about the imaginary world she escapes to when feeling sad. At first, it feels wonderful with blue skies, cream cakes and quiet places for thinking. But, her worries follow her there, creeping into her mind, turning into monsters and chasing after her. Feeling frightened in this world of her own, the little girl comes to a door and realises that, by opening it and in turn opening her heart to others, she can be supported by her friends and family. A powerful story with an important message about reaching out for help at times when we are scared or worried. Wonderfully illustrated by Lee Wildish.

Why this book is one for my bookshelf:

On stumbling upon this Kes Gray/Lee Wildish combination at my library, I knew this was a definite check-out for me. Their lovely book 'Mum and Dad Glue' has won a place in my heart and I was happy to come upon another little gem from this duo. 

And a gem it is.....

In the story's opening pages, the  little girl narrator talks about escaping to 'a world of my own.' She describes freedom from sad feelings and a place where no-one else can reach her. And with the lovely rhyming text and beautiful illustrations we drift into a world of giant ice creams, lollipop trees, endless fizzy drinks, bunny rabbits & smiling honey bees. 

In chunky, bright pictures we see the story's character blissfully skipping through her heavenly world with her teddy. Oh, and there's a unicorn. Of course! A lovely, fat, pink unicorn trots across the blue sky leaving a colourful rainbow trail (the rainbow looks like it's coming from it's butt-only a unicorn could poot a rainbow I guess)

But then, the little girl's worries start to creep in. As the story unfolds, Kes Gray perfectly describes how emotions can escalate and overwhelm, for example:

My worries grow larger,

They play on my mind.
They start to play tricks
Of the scariest kind.

They turn into monsters

That circle and prowl,
That bellow and cackle,
That grizzle and growl.

And, we hear of how this impacts on the child:

They won't let me lose them,

They won't let me go.
I'm beginning to panic,
I'm beginning to slow. 

What a simple and perfect description of how 'worries' can creep into your mind and take hold? And for me, the use of rhythm in the story adds emotional depth- in a sense, it gives the story a heart beat and it allowed me to feel connected to the racing fears of the character. 

As for the illustrations- well, until now, I did not know what 'A Worry' looked like. However, Wildish gives us a perfect picture of this emotion.  'Worries' are hot and swirling, mottled yellow and red,  they have squiggly swirling tails, long clutching arms, they swoop, they glide and they chase.These monsters wreck everything in their path- ice-cream melts, flowers droop, skies darken and they arrive in a swirling storm of lightening. 

  It's hard to escape from worry monsters....
'The blue sky above me
Turns black as deep space.
I turn and I run,
            But the worries give chase.'      Missus B's Picture Book Reviews
As for the fat pink unicorn? Nowhere to be seen :(

Of course, this story comes full circle in that, the character manages to escape her fears. She runs away from her monsters and comes to a dark and quiet space, where she gropes about and finds a door with a keyhole. The door is a metaphor for 'reaching out' and being open to help. When the character looks through the door's keyhole, she sees that people on the other side have been knocking and trying to open it. The little girl had locked herself away, but now she realizes that she has the power to let people into her world and help her feel safe. 

I stare at the door,

The door stares at me.
Suddenly I realise

If I open my heart

To my family and friends
My worries might go
And my trouble might end.

And as lovely, pink heart shapes gush in through the keyhole, the little girl opens the door to be surrounded by the warm glow of people who care. Welcoming arms reach out to her, and while we only see legs and arms,we can assume that  these people may be  family members, neighbours or other caring adults. As the character receives a warm hug she says: 

The next time I'm troubled,

There's a place I will go.
Not a world of my own.
But to someone I know.

Worries Go Away
Missus B's Picture Book Reviews
The book ends with a lovely colourful page spread (no text)- a warm, bright picture with giant ice cream cones, bottles of soda, love hearts and smiling birds. The unicorn is back and pooting rainbows...and so are the happy honey bees. 

In short:

I LOVE this book , it's very important message and engaging pictures. 
This story is an excellent resource for developing emotional literacy, opening dialogue about feelings and encouraging children to communicate with others if they are feeling scared or worried.
Happy reading, 
Missus B
This is a Missus B favourite and valued treasure on my book shelf. Watch a video review here:

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