cover image Gloria’s Big Problem

Gloria’s Big Problem

Sarah Stiles Bright, illus. by Mike Deas. Tilbury House, $17.95 (36p) ISBN 978-0-88448-739-5

Gloria’s “Problem” is a huge green beast in polka-dot boxer shorts. This goofy-looking lout holds enormous power over the child: it’s the manifestation of her crippling anxiety and self-doubt. If Gloria tries to venture out independently in the world, the Problem starts “speaking very LOUDLY in her ear,” writes Bright; Deas portrays the ensuing panic attack as an almost biblical confluence of natural catastrophes. When the community theater holds auditions for a musical, Gloria, who loves to sing, decides enough is enough—even a panic attack (the theater turns blood-red) can’t hold her back. “STOP!” she screams at the Problem, and it immediately shrinks; she nails the audition, and even inspires another kid to stand up to his own, purple Problem. There’s a lot of empathy and solidarity in these pages, and a clear message to families to take anxiety seriously (Gloria’s parents are kindly but dismissive; her brother calls her “a fruitcake”), but having Gloria take full responsibility for what is clearly an overwhelming issue may not offer help to those who need it most. Ages 6–8. (Jan.)