cover image THE WORRY WEB SITE


Jacqueline Wilson, . . Delacorte, $14.95 (112pp) ISBN 978-0-385-73083-9

British author Wilson (The Suitcase Kid ; Girls in Tears ) offers an uneven but generally appealing collection of highly personal accounts, narrated in turns by various members of Mr. Speed's class. On the "Worry Web Site" created by the teacher, the students anonymously reveal their problems and receive feedback. The inaugural tale, "Holly's Worry," is the longest and among the more memorable. "I think I'm going to get a stepmother," the girl types onto the Web site. "I wish she was wicked." She explains, to readers but not to classmates, that, ever since her depressed mother abandoned the family years before, it has been her job to look after her father and her younger sister. Now her father has fallen in love with her sister's teacher, and Holly wishes she could justify her own intense anger and resentment. In other stories, William complains that he is "useless at everything"; Samantha misses her father, now living with another woman; and wheelchair-bound Natasha, who can talk only with the aid of a speaking machine, confides that she longs to take part in the class concert. In each case, the teacher intervenes to help solve the dilemma—with results that vary in credibility. The warmth of the premise and the empathy of the author make up for the gaps in believability; readers will want to imagine themselves under Mr. Speed's tutelage. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)