cover image The Worry Balloon

The Worry Balloon

Mónica Mancillas, illus. by Betty C. Tang. Roaring Brook, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-250-85293-9

Relying on weather metaphors, Mancillas coaches readers on how to handle worry with this method-centered picture book about a child who takes on an anxiety-filled first day of school through mindfulness practices. Leading up to the yet-uncharted experience, worries overwhelm Latinx-cued Isla. But each time stormy thoughts intrude (“What if a tree falls down on the playground and I get squished?”), Mami proposes coping mechanisms and positive visualizations, such as placing concerns in the eponymous worry balloon and letting it float away (“Whenever it comes back to check on you, just remind it that you’re ok”). Stencil and sponge textures infuse Tang’s digital art with an appropriate ephemerality in scenes that show gray clouds bunching and dispersing around the child, whose expressions shift accordingly. Realistically depicting thought spirals and intrusive worry, the book takes a sensitive, strategic approach. Back matter offers instructions for “Building Your Worry Tool Bag.” Ages 4–8. (July)