Why Worry Wally?
Rick Foster, 2019
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.95
As soon as Wally wakes up in the morning, his mind starts working overtime about all the things that might go wrong that day from eating too much breakfast to monkeys falling from the trees. He is a perpetual worrier, getting so anxious and uptight about what might happen that he is unable to enjoy what does.
Children’s anxiety is a growing mental health issue and is in fact, becoming such an issue that it is at last getting the recognition it requires. So much so, that, since its inception in 1991, the phone counselling service Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800) has responded to 8. 5oo ooo contacts from kids who just need someone to listen. And while there have been a number of picture books written and shared to help children manage their anxiety, this one offers suggestions such as eating healthy food and having fun as well as encouraging positive self-talk as a pathway forward. As well, the author has developed an incursion to complement a school’s well-being program aimed at those up to Year 4 that helps children understand that everyone feels worries and concerns at some time and there are strategies they can learn to help them manage them, even when they become overwhelming, particularly being able to start a conversation with a trusted adult.
With its soft-palette graphics and rhyming text, Wally’s predicament may well resonate with a number of students but the positive and inspiring message that offers acknowledgement of the issues rather than their dismissal, and encourages them to look for help rather than feeling they have to go it alone, they are also offered hope. While there was a strong focus on kids’ well0being after their isolation during the lockdowns of the pandemic, as life returns to normal, we cannot let this concern diminish. So any stories and programs that shine a spotlight on the problem that might help just one kid make a positive difference to their lives or build awareness in the adults around them are an essential part of any mindfulness programs and library collections.