Title: Mindful Bea and the Worry Tree
Author: Gail Silver
Illustrator: Franziska Höllbacher
Bea loves to be outside, but on her birthday, she is laying scared in her bed. Bea is feeling anxious about the party and has a million what-ifs and questions running through her mind. Her mum tries to reassure her but ultimately Bea learns to control her anxious thoughts by concentrating on her breathing. Then she realises she’s forgotten the balloons for her party. Can she overcome her worries and have a great party?
I love the spreads which include multiple speech bubbles for Bea’s inner monologue that runs in parallel to the conversation she is having with her mum. Gail really has captured the thoughts of a person struggling with anxiety.
The speech bubbles in particular offer an insight into what anxiety feels like making this a great story to read with both children who maybe don’t know how it feels to be anxious as well as for a child that gets anxious but is struggling to explain their emotions to others. Gail has also cleverly incorporated breathing techniques within the story to help alleviate a panic attack.
Overall this is a brilliant rhythmic story for exploring what it feels like to be anxious and how to deal with anxiety and panic. My only slight concern was that the willow tree (Bea’s safe place) looks almost identical to the “Worry tree” and I felt this made the message slightly confused. Although using a tree as a metaphor was a nice idea, it did come across a little scary how the tree had “gnarled roots”. However, once past this early spread and into the story of the anxiety Bea was feeling, both the words and illustrations were fantastic.
Picture Book Perfect Rating:
Four out of five stars.
Publisher: Magination Press
Publication date: 30 April 2019
I am very grateful to the publisher for providing me with an advanced digital copy via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.