Charlie Higson, Worst. Holiday. Ever., Penguin Random House, May 2021, 352 pp., RRP $14.99 (pbk), ISBN 9780241414781
When Stan has the opportunity to join Felix, his fourth best friend, on an exotic holiday to Italy, he reluctantly takes it. Meanwhile, he’s drawn up a Duck-It List. That’s the opposite of a Bucket List, listing all the things he hopes never to do. Stan is a shy, anxious kid and the prospect of “going on holiday with people you don’t know” (Stan’s Duck-It List #10) is the terrifying premise for Worst. Holiday. Ever.
But being pushed out of his comfort zone turns out to be a great thing for Stan as he learns that things like talking to adults, talking to girls (!) and showing off your legs in public, are not actually the end of the world. Higson, best known for his Young Bond series, has created a thoughtful, funny, and compassionate depiction of a shy kid finding his way. The book is dedicated to ‘all the shy kids in the world’ but would also be helpful for those lacking confidence or suffering social anxiety. Kids in middle to late primary will relate to and feel inspired by Stan’s experiences.
Reviewed by Heather Gallagher