cover image Crabapple Trouble

Crabapple Trouble

Kaeti Vandorn. Random House Graphic, $12.99 (176p) ISBN 978-1-9848-9680-3

The Forest Fairy Kingdom’s summertime fair is coming up, and its produce-headed orchard denizens are excited to show off their skills at its annual competition. Callaway, an apple-headed girl who struggles with feelings of inadequacy stemming from the comparatively small fruit of the crab apple tree she tends, is so anxious about the competition that she literally loses her head. Rolling away into the nearby forest, it attracts the attention of fairy Thistle, whom other fairies deride for his laid-back approach to life. Thistle helps Callaway reassemble herself and, as the two bond, assists her in staving off worry—by focusing on the present and busily assisting others—and finding her anxiety’s source. Via expressive art in a colorful, slightly muted palette, debut creator Vandorn depicts the adorably anthropomorphic fruit- and veg-headed farmers and flower fairies. The low-conflict plot effectively normalizes the experience of anxiety, offering strategies to deal with fretful feelings (particularly around interpersonal comparisons and high expectations), and shows how each person’s experience can help them understand others. Light, summery, and warm. Ages 5–8. [em](Aug.) [/em]