Reviewed by Dannielle Viera
The night before he was due to start at a new school, Archie had a visitor – the Worry Monster. Fed by Archie’s fears, the creature grew larger and louder. ‘You could get lost!’ the Worry Monster fretted. ‘The kids might not include you in their games,’ it cried. Archie’s head throbbed, his tummy fluttered and his heart pounded. He wanted Mama to scare the creature away, but he knew that ‘it was time to handle Worry Monster by himself’. By using calming techniques, remembering the facts about going to school and ignoring the creature, Archie made the Worry Monster disappear.
In her debut picture book, Brooke Graham deals deftly with the mental demon that can arise from childhood anxiety. Nervous readers aged four to nine years will relate to the recognisable physical symptoms associated with worry, and discover practical ways to take control and overcome their angst. As Archie’s self-confidence climbs, the young reader’s will, too – until they can shout along with Archie, ‘Go away, Worry Monster!’
Bursting at the seams with colour and texture, Robin Tatlow-Lord’s images add a wealth of visual interest to the tale. Tasked with illustrating a story that takes place in just one room, she skilfully rises to the challenge at every page turn. The Worry Monster increases in stature as it becomes stronger, while Archie shrinks away; when the tables are turned and Archie is mentally tougher, the little boy looms over the diminishing creature. The characterisation of Archie’s three bedroom buddies – Brown Teddy, Toby the dog and Owl the night-light – also enhances the emotional resonance of the spreads.
Blending rich illustrations with uplifting text, Go Away, Worry Monster! is bound to become a beloved childhood volume. The story is awash with superb strategies to help kids cope with stressful situations, and supports youngsters as they seek out their own inner strength.