children’s literature

Can I Tell You About Anxiety?

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978-1-84905-527-7

by Lucy Willetts and Polly Waite

Overall: Whether or not you have kids, plan to have kids, or even just plan to be around kids this is a book you definitely need to read. 


I received this book from Netgalley in return for an honest review. 

No matter what background you come from, we have all experienced anxiety in one point in our lives. Whether it comes from school, stressers at home, or maybe even just a subtle nagging in the back of our heads that keep us up at night, we are constantly experiencing anxiety. Some anxiety is good, it keeps us motivated and helps us in terrible situations, however, there are some individuals in the world who experience anxiety on a very serious level.

I have had my own anxieties, with panic attacks a couple times a week, or even just avoiding situations because I couldn’t stand things like crowds or strangers. And when I was diagnosed with PTSD, I became very serious on learning and understanding anxiety. Anxiety disorders, unfortunately, have also been given the same treatment as any other mental disorder: it is considered to be controlled, and could be turned on and off with a moment’s notice or a happy little thought. My opinion on mental illness is the same as probably any reasonable psychologist or student of psychology–it is the same monster as an individual with diabetes or pneumonia. It should be treated, maybe not necessarily with medicine, but it should be treated to improve the quality of life of the individual.

This book is probably the best book that I have read this year about the treatment of anxiety. Unlike the adult help books I’ve read, this treats anxiety with the compassion and recognition it needs. In this book, you meet a young girl named Megan who has anxiety. She describes in great detail how her anxiety has affected her (her separation anxiety, her General Anxiety Disorder, and other things like social anxiety and Agoraphobia), we read about relate-able experiences that can be understood by the youngest of audiences.

What is excellent about this book is the thorough yet easily understandable explanation of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This has been proven a very successful treatment plan for anxiety, and the authors were kind enough to provide descriptions and examples of action plans and strategies to reduce you or your child’s anxiety. You are also given a very detailed guide on how a parent should approach the topic of a child’s anxiety, and how a teacher should assist a student of theirs who has anxiety.

The authors do not use CBT as the know-all-end-all for treating anxiety, they also encourage constant monitoring of the child’s behavior by a licensed psychologist and they do bring up the idea of medication, although it is encouraged not to use medication unless the CBT does not work.

I think this book was written in the UK, as it has a lot of different terms than if it was written in the US (lift instead of elevator, cross instead of angry), but the idea is universal. There are a list of resources and references to medical facilities and Psychiatric Offices for future reference, but if you are a non-UK reader, they will not be of use to you.

Can I Tell You About Anxiety? is by far one of the best books I have read that cover anxiety at a level that anyone can understand while not undermining or patronizing individuals who suffer from it. It provides a lot of excellent tips that someone of any age can implement. I would find this book especially important for teachers, and some nice reading material to give to the parents who have children who experience too much anxiety. This is a great, great book. I did some research that the authors have other books that cover other topics such as eating disorders OCD, autism, et cetera. If you’re looking for a good understanding of mental illness, I would see what these authors have to say!

Jacob Smith is Incredibly Average

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Image

by Erin Hayes

Overall: A great book for kids and definitely one to pick up!


Jacob Smith is incredibly average. Not kidding, he is the most average boy that you could ever come across. He’s bad at math, his favorite color is blue, and he has the most common name in the world. He’s even the most average child for a statistically correct family, he is the son in a perfect 2.4 children per household family.

If he’s so average, why is he being hunted by aliens?!

Jake wasn’t really good enough at anything and had no interest in anything.

Jacob lives in Pflugerville, Texas with his parents and his siblings Theo and Thea. Theo is the perfect jock, incredibly talented in everything he accomplishes. Thea is the rebel, with her tattoos and her heavy metal music. But lately, Jacob Smith has been having some upsetting dreams, of a snowy owl. Little does he know, he’s being watched.

But then again, that was why he was constantly in front of 592 Norwalk Street, watching him. Watching him day in and day out. For all thirteen years of his boring little life.

 Aliens are watching Jacob, special aliens who are perfection, covered in mathematical tattoos all over their perfectly symmetrical bodies. But if they are so perfect at absolutely everything, what do they want with Jacob Smith, who is absolutely incredibly average?!

Together, with Theo and Thea, a mysterious black labrador, and his alien-obsessed grandfather, Jacob has to run from these mysterious evil aliens whose colonization of planets depend on destroying the Earth with Jacob being their Key. With help from androids, aliens, and alien-fanatics they need to stop this alien race from destroying the Earth!

Jacob Smith is Incredibly Average is the perfect book for a children who are transitioning into chapter books (late elementary school) but the content within the book is enough that anyone looking for an entertaining read can enjoy. I found myself laughing, becoming emotionally invested, and getting surprised in the twists and turns that this book set up and delivered! It was an excellent read and it was hard to put down!

This book is perfect for classroom reading on an introductory lesson on interesting math topics: mean, median, mode, Fibonacci sequence, symmetry, and everything in between. It brings up some interesting concepts but in a vague way. Nothing is difficult to understand and chapters are nice and short.

The mother was safely tucked away in cryogenesis as the preservation of her condition was vital to everything at hand. The average number of children in a household in the United States was 2.4 and at sixteen weeks along, the mother had added 0.4 children to the number of her household.

There is also a deep political and anti-colonization message within this book. The colonization of planets depend on an equal vote and the planet’s representative stating their case as to why their planet should not be taken over.

But most importantly, this book has the message that no matter who you are, you have a voice and while you may be “average” you have your own opinion and not to be scared to speak up. If you believe strongly in something then you should fight for what you believe in.

“You’ve never…dealt…with the human spirit before…”

An Adult Overanalyzing a Children’s Book: The only issues that I had with this book was only because I am reading this book as an adult. With this being an easy read I couldn’t help but have my mind wander over the many questions that this book rose for me.

Jacob Smith is average. He’s so average that the evil alien race wants to use him to find the weakness of the entire human race? Last time I checked, the United States is the third largest population in the world. Why wouldn’t the aliens have tried to take someone from China or India (considering they each have well over a billion in their population). Recognizing this little fact could’ve finally added some diversity to main characters within books. Having a child from China or India would’ve been a refreshing feel and I would’ve loved this book even more.

My other issue was the ending deus ex machina. It was so blunt and made me just facepalm. But not complaining too much, it’s a children’s book. They wouldn’t care.

Lastly, what is up with these books that like to promote animals in hospitals? Every book I’ve been reading lately has a dog that is somehow always allowed in a hospital completely ignoring all protocol. Promoting the idea of lying about service animals never sits right with me and really irritated me.

In the end, this is a great book and I laughed and got angry and the ending nearly brought me to tears. This is an excellent book for a child and I highly recommend getting this book if you see it in the bookstore. I’m expecting a film adaptation.

He was no longer the most extraordinarily normal, average boy.
He was just plain old normal now. And that was just what he wanted.