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THE WORRY TIGER (Alexandra Page, Stef Murphy, 3-6 yrs)

The Worry Tiger (Two Hoots, 2022) written and illustrated by the same team that brought you The Fire Fox, is one of my favourite picture books about worries. 

Alexandra’s text is lyrical and lilting, whilst still being accessible to young readers. Rory’s den, and the jungle that appears when he is worried, are beautifully described and wonderfully sensual. We follow Rory and the worry tiger, who shares some tips on how to stay calm. Their midnight adventure ends with Rory and the tiger snuggling up together in Rory’s den. The next day, ‘show and tell’ still feels overwhelming, but Rory remembers the tiger’s suggestions for staying calm and Rory is able to share something special with his friends.

Stef’s illustrations are delightful. Such a warm but exciting colour palette, befitting Rory’s adventure and also the heartfelt takeaway. Together with the poetic text, Stef and Alex are such a magical pairing.

Another reason to love The Worry Tiger is the back matter, featuring child friendly things to try to help feel calm, including tiptoeing , stretching, listening and breathing like a tiger.

This is fabulous combination of magical friendship and pertinent message, pitched perfectly for the age group .

DRAMA LLAMA (Rachel Morrisroe, Ella Okstad, 3-7yrs)

‘One day a worry comes to stay, and simply will not go away!’

Rachel Morrisroe and Ella Okstad’s Drama Llama (Puffin 2022) sees Alex Allen – a super worrier – with a seriously silly llama problem. The more Alex worries, the bigger the llama grows! Rachel’s snappy, energetic verse is dynamic and fun, while Ella’s illustrations— of the bright, pink, fluffy llama — are hilarious.

The ending has a powerful takeaway about living with a llama, rather than getting rid of it completely, meaning readers will not only be full of smiles but also empowered to share their worries. At the very back there is some further advice for managing worries.

SUPERHEROES DON’T GET SCARED (OR DO THEY?) (Kate Thompson, Clare Elsom, 3-6 yrs)

Superheroes Don’t Get Scared (Or Do They?) (Welbeck, 2020) is an important story for young readers, told in a lively, dynamic rhyme. In this fast-paced but sensitive story, Maisy Brown learns that even the strongest and bravest heroes get scared sometimes, giving this story an empowering message for all wanna-be superheroes – we all get scared sometimes! Because bravery isn’t the absence of fear, it’s feel afraid and doing it anyway.

As well as a poignant message for little ones, this book is also a great story – with fun and memorable characters, including Burpnado, Specstacular and Bogey Boy, and lots to enjoy in the bright and colourful illustrations. All in all, a great book to share with a child who needs a little encouragement to take a big step.

SPLASH! (Claire Cashmore, Sharon Davey, 3-6yrs)

These are Claire’s big sisters.
They call her Bear and ruffle her hair.
And whatever Claire’s sisters can do,
Claire can do too…

But there is one thing Claire can’t do!

Splash! (Farshore, 2021) is an empowering picture book following main character, Claire, as she navigates her worries around water. Claire would rather eat a pickle sandwich or be chased by a (real) bear than dip her toe in the swimming pool. But she learns to face her fear and is suitably proud of herself. Claire pushes herself further, entering swimming races. She doesn’t succeed immediately, learning a very important lesson – what she can’t do today, she’ll conquer tomorrow.

Author, Claire Cashmore, MBE and Paralympic gold medallist, was born without a left forearm – but she never let being different stand in the way of her big dreams. Her foreword explains that Splash! is partly inspired by personal experience as well as a lack of representation of people with a disability in books.

Sharon Davey’s joyful illustrations bring the story alive. The characters are bold but warm, reaffirming the fun and positivity rippling through this text.

SOMETIMES I JUST WONT (Timothy Knapman, Joe Berger, 3-6 yrs)

Timothy Knapman and Joe Berger’s brilliant characters are back, this time in another fun story with an empowering message about giving things a try before you decide you don’t like them. In Sometimes I Just Won’t (Macmillan, 2022), the humourous, dynamic rhyme takes us by the hand and through the pages as we follow the main character who knows exactly what they like (and what they don’t).

But when the child becomes conflicted – meeting a scenario that combines both what they do and don’t like – the adult in their life encourages them to give the new thing a try. Maybe they’ll like it, but they might not! And that’s ok.  At least they know for sure.

This picture book is funny and relatable, advocating to readers that sometimes you need to be brave and give things a try.

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