Book Review: Wishes and Worries by Sarina Dickson, illustrated by Jenny Cooper


Available in selected bookshops.

Wishes and Worries is part of a home-school resource for teachers and parents to use
when wanting to help children who are experiencing mild to moderate anxiety. The concept came about as a response to the aftermath of Christchurch earthquakes, when many children were demonstrating a need for help managing their worries. Utilising cognitive behaviour and narrative therapy, the book helps adults to help children in an easy-to-follow way.

Wishes and Worries is the part of the resource for teachers to use at school (Maia and the Worry Bug is the book for parents to use at home). It is designed to be read aloud, and then for NZ Curriculum-linked activities to follow within the classroom.

Dan has a constant stream of self-talk going – although for him it feels like it’s coming from external sources. He feels under pressure to let his mum get to work even though he’d like her support at school, as he finds it a high-stress environment. He really doesn’t want to be there, but he knows his mum will be frustrated with him if he tells her about it. The adults in his life don’t get what’s going on for him. Dan is carrying so much worry and fear (a rumbling truck causes him to hold his breath before he realises it’s only a truck) that it’s affecting his concentration. Luckily, he discovers an almost magical way to take control of his worries and turn them into something wonderful.

The follow-up activities are well-thought through and would be very easy for a teacher to use with no adaption required. They help children to identify their own worries, to think about how it affects their thinking and their bodies, and ideas for how they could address them within the classroom in a safe and supportive way.

While the book was written in response to the Christchurch earthquakes, it could apply to just about any situation that I can think of, including children who are anxious about lots of things, rather than in response to an event. Children have all sorts of worries, and adults often dismiss them with comments like “You don’t need to worry about that” or “You’re just being silly” – and these sorts of responses really don’t help, they just drive the worry underground. It’s so much healthier for children (and adults!) to identify their anxieties, realise their mental and physical responses, and deal with them accordingly. Wishes and Worries will definitely assist caring adults to help the children in their lives.

Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Rachel Moore, primary school teacher

Wishes and Worries
by Sarina Dickson, illustrated by Jenny Cooper
Published by Kotuku Creative
ISBN: 9780473319250