As someone who has struggled with anxiety for most of my life, this book resonated particularly strongly with me. It can sometimes be difficult to recognize when children are plagued by anxious thoughts, but it seems to be happening to younger and younger kids for a variety of reasons. Books like Winston the Worried Unicorn help kids see that they’re not alone, especially if they are worried about disclosing their feelings to others. And when a book is told from the perspective of a unicorn, a wide range of readers will be excited to check it out. Please see my full review below!
Winston the Unicorn loves to play with his friends in a beautiful and utopic world filled with color and joy. One day, a small voice begins to whisper in Winston’s ear, causing him to grow concerned about events that he used to participate in with abandon. Every “what if” question whittles away at Winston’s confidence, transforming him into a nearly unrecognizable shadow of the vibrant creature he once was. Despite Winston’s best efforts to keep his feelings hidden, his friend Teddy notices that something is wrong, and the two companions work together to help Winston navigate his complex emotions in a positive way.
This picture book is a fictionalized approach to the very real condition of anxiety experienced by countless people around the globe. Children, like adults, can be plagued by worries, and they must learn how to work through their emotions in constructive ways. Winston is a positive and friendly role model, and readers observe his gradual decline while noticing which actions begin to turn his thoughts around. Practical examples provide readers with suggestions of ways to approach their own anxious thoughts, adding helpful resources to their emotional toolboxes.
Cheerful, kid-friendly illustrations depict Winston and his friends in lovely jewel tones and visually textured imagery. Emotions are evident on each face, and it is clear when Winston is both spiraling into anxiety and beginning to better organize his troubled feelings. The text is presented in short, accessible sentences, appearing within ample white space on the page opposite the illustration on each spread. Winston’s thoughts stand out in blue from the rest of the text, drawing attention to the way anxiety embeds itself into otherwise ordinary activities. While the font is small in comparison to the illustrations, the concept remains clear even for young readers.
Written by a licensed mental health counselor, this is an accessible and helpful picture book for families with children working through anxious thoughts. Not only are children able to empathize with Winston’s story, but they will come to see that their own feelings are valid and can be managed appropriately with the right techniques. Succinct and well-designed, this book follows a clear path and readers will enjoy getting to know Winston as they develop their own socio-emotional skills. This is a helpful addition to library collections supporting mental health in young children.
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