Monday 26 April 2021

Michaela Mason’s Big List of 23 Worries!

Michaela Mason’s Big List of 23 Worries! written by Alexa Moses (Scholastic Australia) Paperback $15.99 ISBN 978 1 743838754                                      

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

Mikey worries about things and moving south from Sydney to Wombat Gully is not helping, especially when dogs are around. Mum is determined to make a go of it, but Mikey is hoping things will go pear-shaped so they can go back to the city. A new school adds to Mikey’s woes. Her big list of worries could possibly explode.

Alexa Moses is a children’s author and screenwriter. This is her first book in a new series and it’s a cracker. Her strength as a writer is her strong voice that speaks clearly and makes you want to keep on reading. It was all Dodgy Derek’s fault that I’d been forced to leave the city. Dodgy Derek was Mum’s ex-boyfriend and last year, after he broke up with us, everything changed. This story is topical as many families are moving to regional areas and making changes. Its themes include identity, worry, place, family and friendship.

I too, am a worrier and I have never thought of creating a worry list like Alexa has in this story. What a great strategy. It is refreshing to see worries talked about rather than being hidden where they continue to fester. Mikey is a brave character who is aware of her worries and wants to overcome them. This book shows the chain reaction of behaviours that can happen when you have anxiety. Bullying features strongly and Mikey tries not to beat the bullies but to understand them. She finally realises that they may never be friends and that’s okay as you need to do what is best for you. This is such a powerful message and Alexa has nailed it. We see Mikey grow as a character and instead of wanting to run away from things, she becomes strong and resilient.

Mikey likes to use big words and share their meaning. This silently upskills readers with new words because Alexa also shares their meaning. I’d moved away from everything I knew and loved, and I was comprehensively miserable. ‘Comprehensively’ means completely or totally. The dialogue is strong and the story flows seamlessly for the reader. It keeps you hooked. Alexa knows her characters and setting well.

Michaela Mason’s Big List of 23 Worries! is a middle grade book for readers 8 years plus. It is a perfect choice for readers who are prone to worrying. This is a book that can be used both individually or in a classroom. I love that the main character is a strong female role model.

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