Friday 24 July 2015

The Huge Bag of Worries

Written by Virginia Ironside
Illustration by Frank Rodgers
Hodder Childrens Books 2004
(reviewed copy is shop bought/personal collection)

Back of book: Wherever Jenny goes, her worries follow her-in a big blue bag! They are then when she goes swimming, when she is watching TV, and even when she is in the lavatory. Jenny decides they will have to go. But who can she get to help her? This funny and reassuring story from Virginia Ironside will appeal to all children who have occasional worries of their own.

The Story
Jenny has felt like a happy girl til recently. Lately, she has begun to worry about all sorts of things...... 
What if her dog catches fleas?
What if her friend moves away?!
What if there's a BOMB?!!  

There's more worries.... oh yes... there's more....these worries are like buses- there's always another one on the way.

It seems there's no escaping her fears, until one day Jenny's elderly neighbour encourages her to open her worry bag and tackle what's inside. Jenny then realises that fears aren't so bad once they're shared and out in the open. Some of them disappear, some belong to other people and some are a whole lot smaller when separated from the rest.
Poor Loftus! How does he sleep at night?! At any moment he could be attacked by a swarm of fleas
or a missile for goodness sake!!
More from Missus B
The Huge Bag of Worriesis an excellent support tool and one I have used for several years in both educational and social care settings. If you have a little (or big!) worrier in your life, this is an ideal read. Many children will relate to Jenny's everyday worries, learning that a problem shared is a problem halved.

Jenny's bag is filled with worries of all shapes and sizes. We see their cheeky monster faces as they squirm and wriggle about. For most of the story, the zipper is tightly closed, but as the story progresses,those little monsters just get bigger and bigger. Worries are reliable like that, aren't they?  
Jenny kept her worries to herself and decided not to ask
for help. She thought her Mum would tell
her 'You've got no worries. You're a lucky girl. You've got your health, your
friends, your family-what more do you want?'

Jenny's worries take on a life of their own. They toss and turn at night, chase her to school and even scurry up a drain pipe to sneak into her bedroom. The text and illustrations perfectly show how our negative thoughts can overwhelm us and become out of control. We even see her worry bag lifting weights, with poor Jenny helplessly standing by.
Poor Jenny. All this emotional baggage is exhausting!

Thankfully, Jenny's sensible neighbour steps in. She tells Jenny she ought to open the bag and deal with it's contents. But Jenny is fearful- what ELSE could happen if she takes those worries out?! Don't open the bag! Surely we shouldn't open the bag?!

"Nonsense", said the old lady firmly. "There's nothing a worry hates more than being seen. If you have any worries, however small, the secret is to let them out slowly, one by one, and show them to someone else. They'll soon go away."
 Jenny's fears are put into perspective. By talking with an adult & getting help,
her mind is less of a muddle as the old lady 'sorted the worries into groups.
Jenny learns that, its normal to carry some worries but important not to take on too many.
....and of course, some worries belong to other people!
In short
This is an excellent book for opening up discussions about anxieties, fears and how to manage emotions. Feelings are illustrated in a concrete way with comical images and expressive little monster characters. An excellent circle-time read, this book fits well in a PSHE/SPHE curriculum. 

For more support/info about anxiety in children check out or these 12 helpful tips written by Amy Przeworski in Psychology Today
You may also be interested in What to Do When You Worry Too Much and Worries Go Away
Happy reading, 
Missus B. 
Get the book at the below  affiliate links.

You may also be interested in the collection of books I have compiled on my 'Feelings/Emotions' Page
buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery           

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