Ruby Finds a Worry by Tom Percival

Ruby Finds a Worry by Tom Percival
Bright Big Feelings
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Genre: Children’s (0 – 6 y.o.), Contemporary
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Meet Ruby–a happy, curious, imaginative girl. But one day, she finds something unexpected: a Worry.

It’s not such a big Worry, at first. But every day, it grows a little bigger . . . And a little bigger . . . Until eventually, the Worry is ENORMOUS and is all she can think about.

But when Ruby befriends a young boy, she discovers that everyone has worries, and not only that, there’s a great way to get rid of them too . . .
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This perceptive and poignant story is the perfect springboard for talking to children about emotional intelligence and sharing hidden anxieties.

It’s never too early to start talking about uncomfortable emotions.

One of the things I adored the most about Ruby’s Worry was how open-ended it was. Rather than explaining precisely what was bothering her, the narrator left plenty of space for us readers to come up with our own theories about exactly what was bothering her. This meant that it was easy for me to put myself in her shoes and imagine various things that I worried about when I was her age! Honestly, the precise thing she was worried about was much less important than how it felt for her to carry it around and slowly watch it grow bigger.

Even very young children should learn about healthy coping mechanisms for their scary thoughts. I enjoyed seeing Ruby try various things to cope with her worry, especially as it grew bigger and harder to manage. These scenes were written with so much compassion and kindness that i wouldn’t hesitate to read them to any little one who might be interested.

The best part of this picture book had to do with who helped Ruby with her problem. No, I can’t go into detail about this without sharing a plot twist, but I can say that the author’s decision to move the storyline into this direction was an excellent one. This isn’t something I’ve seen done very often in this genre. It was refreshing to find it here.

This is part of the Big Bright Feelings series, but it works perfectly well as a standalone read.

I wholeheartedly recommend Ruby Finds a Worry to readers of all ages who have ever quietly worried about something.

Fangsiving by Ethan Long

Fangsiving by Ethan Long
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Genre: Childrens, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Holiday, Horror, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (32 pages)
Age Recommendation: 6+
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

It’s the fourth Thursday of November, and the members of Fright Club are cooking up something spooky . . . a Thanksgiving feast!

But when Vlad’s family arrives unexpectedly, they put their own spin on each of the dishes. Now, the rolls are as hard as headstones and the turkey has been cooked to death. Vlad loves his family, but they’ve made a mess of their meal!
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Can this monster-filled family come together to save their feast and celebrate what the holiday is truly about?

There’s always room for one more at this spooky dinner table.

A monster’s idea of how to make great mashed potatoes or pie obviously might not be exactly the same as how a person would make it. Some of the best scenes in this tale were the ones that showed how mummies, vampires, and other creatures of the night whip up a traditional – or not so traditional, as the case may be – Thanksgiving dinner. They were every bit as unusual and sometimes icky as I’d hoped they would be.

One of the things I didn’t like about this book was the message it sent about how people should react when their boundaries are disrespected. Vlad’s family purposefully messed up his recipes for various dishes for this feast. He had every reason to be angry with them for that. I wish the plot had made this clear and acknowledged the fact that he was not at all to blame for the conflict and hurt feelings there.

With that being said, I do see the value of encouraging young readers to do their best to fix things that go wrong. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes. While I wish this had been explored in greater detail as mentioned earlier, there is something to be said for forgiving people and trying to resolve conflicts no matter who is responsible for them. This is a good lesson for this age group, especially if the original problem is discussed with the audience afterwards and kids are made aware of the importance of being respectful guests in general.

Anyone who loves horror and homemade turkey dinners may want to give Fangsiving a try.

Henry and the Yeti by Russell Ayto

Henry and the Yeti by Russell Ayto
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Genre: Childrens, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (32 pages)
Age Recommendation: 3+
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Henry loves yetis.

Yes, yetis.

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Told through charming illustrations, this is a heart-warming and witty story about believing in yourself (and yetis).

If yetis are real, why hasn’t anyone found one yet?

Henry was such a brave kid. One of my favorite scenes in this story happened early on when his parents told him he could search for a yeti so long as he didn’t stay up late that evening. The descriptions of how far he travelled after that conversation were as humorous as they were exciting. I couldn’t wait to find out if he’d actually find a yeti before his time ran out.

The one thing I didn’t like about this tale was how abruptly it ended. There was a conflict happening between Henry and some of the other characters that was never resolved. Based on how much they teased him earlier on in the storyline, I was surprised by this. It felt like something that should have been addressed again not only for the sake of wrapping up the plot but also to show why it was wrong for them to treat him the way that they did.

There were a few fun plot twists that kept me coming back for more. I enjoyed Mr. Ayto’s tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, especially when it came to how the main character interacted with the various people he spent time with before, during, and after his adventures. The author’s humorous spin on all of the unexpected things that happened to Henry only made those twists even more amusing than they would have otherwise been.

Henry and the Yeti made me smile. It should be read by anyone who has ever wished that their favourite mythical creature wasn’t so mythical after all.