Lynn Jenkins (text) and Kirrili Lonergan (illustrator), What if … ?, EK Books, September 2021, 32 pp., RRP $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781925820973
Issy has an active mind which is overwhelmed by anxious thoughts. These thoughts swirl around in her mind causing her to feel more and more anxious. She dwells on “what if” scenarios, ranging from “what if there is a monster in my cupboard?” to “what if a tree branch breaks my window and a vampire bat comes in?”. Issy’s worries are relatable and are the types of anxieties that can keep young children awake at night.
Issy’s clever Mama encourages her to replace her scary “what if” scenarios with more fun and imaginative scenarios. It is much easier for Issy to go to sleep wondering “what if clouds smelled like fairy floss and popcorn?” or “what if falibbertyschnozzel was a word?” than “what if an alien takes me in the middle of the night?” Reframing the meaning of “what if” is a simple way for Issy to take control of her fears and worries.
What if …? is written by Lynn Jenkins, a clinical psychologist and parent. Her language is common-sense and accessible. Kirrili Lonergan’s accompanying illustrations are delicate and soothing to look at. The gentle text and pastel colour palette work together to create a comforting and calming bedtime story for anxious children.
This book is ideal for children aged 4 – 8 years and would be an excellent resource for a psychology clinic or school library.
Teacher’s notes are available here.
Reviewed by Clare Mellor