Jack’s Worry by Sam Zuppardi is an exceptional picture book about overcoming short-term anxiety and worry.
A couple of weeks ago, I was in a waiting room and saw this book lying on the table. I immediately picked it up and read it to my son and instantly loved it. It was a simple story with real and complex feelings that any child could relate to in their daily life. The story begins with Jack waking up in the morning and “finding a worry”. The author and illustrator, Sam Zuppardi represents the “worry” as a blue-blackish blob that gets larger and larger as his worry increases. Jack tries all different ways of trying to make his worry go away by running around the yard and then playing his trumpet, but this only seems to make things worse. He wants to tell his mother but can’t find the words to express his feelings. Finally, his worry becomes so big that he breaks down and starts to cry. At this moment, he is able to tell his mother what is really wrong. Instead of avoiding his worry and making it go away, he confronts it. He tells his mother, “I’m worried I’ll make a mistake and you won’t love me anymore!” His mother immediately reassures him that the concert isn’t about playing perfectly, it’s about “having fun and sharing something you love with people who love you.” Jack’s worry becomes less and less and by the time he reaches school for the concert it is a teeny tiny worry. When he arrives at school, he sees that all of the other kids also have worries as well. Since he dealt with his worry already, Jack was able to conquer his fears and play in the concert with triumph!
I loved the way the worry was represented in this story. It showed children that worrying is normal but the only way to make it go away is to confront it. Too many times, we distract ourselves so we won’t think about our worries. However, this doesn’t work because the worries just get bigger and bigger. By acknowledging our feelings and expressing ourselves, we can overcome our fears and be stronger in the end. Jack is an excellent character to learn from and the book can be an excellent way to start discussions about the feeling of “worry” and the different strategies that he uses to overcome it. Discuss with your children the feeling of “worry” as well as the other emotions that Jack had such as sad, excited and compassionate.
Check out this toy that helps to start discussions about different feelings:
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