Book review: Worry says What?

Worry says What? by Allison Edwards

I received a complimentary copy of this book from National Center for Youth Issues through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

I feel like the mark of a truly great children’s story (be it a book or a movie) is how well it works for adults. Ideally, you want the story that you read as a kid to stay with you through your life, and not just to stay, but to have you coming back to it, discovering new meanings where you haven’t seen them before. More frequently (and all of us, adults, who’ve had to read too many children’s books or watch too many cartoons, will agree) you want a story that’s at least not so simplistic that it makes your brain slip into a coma.
Or sometimes you could get that special kind of story that speaks so well to kids, but also resonates with adults on every level. There is no secret hidden meaning – the meaning is usually right there in the title – and that’s exactly what we, as adults, lack sometimes: having a complicated problem laid out for us and not having to dig through layers of sub-plot and character development for the solution.

That’s exactly how “Worry says What” works for me.
And I say “works” and not “worked” because I’ve read this book over a dozen times. (that’s another mark of a great children’s book – if you, an adult, can read it over and over again and not start hating it) And every time it works for me; every time it reminds me that – long story short – it’s all in the head.

The hero of this story, a Girl, has been living with a monster named Worry. He torments her all day, every day – telling her she’s not worthy of success, she’ll never have friends, she should just give up and not try anything. Will the Girl really give up, or will she learn to stand up to the monster and fight?
Allison Edwards has really found a way to reach kids on their level without simplifying the hardships of anxiety. I’ve read this book to a few kids in the library, and they all saw how easy it would have been to succumb to Worry and how brave the girl was for fighting him. And they all came to the conclusion that the next time they see a kid who looks uncertain or worried, they will reach out to them without waiting for an invitation. Because kids and adults alike know how hard it can be to ask for help when you’re dealing with anxiety.
We can’t forget to mention the illustrations that are expressive and colorful. I think it was a wonderful idea to keep changing the look of the monster as the story progressed. The fact that Worry becomes diminutive and scared when the Girl finds her strength and fights him, really shows how a lot of our worries come from within, therefore we can battle them and win.

This book can serve as a wonderful introduction to living with anxiety for kids who aren’t sure what anxiety really is. It can help kids identify the symptoms not only within themselves, but in their friends.
And for adults like me, who have never had to deal with anxiety, but were suddenly, brutally faced with it, “Worry says What” is a great reminder that it’s all in the head.

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