I am delighted to be taking part in the Blog Tour for My Monster and Me by Nadiya Hussain and Ella Bailey as, for me, self-care books are a very important part of any children’s book collection in order to give children resilience and the coping mechanisms to cope with the pressures and emotional stressors that adults can struggle with-including myself.
My Monster and Me that takes the experiences of panic and worry and tries to help young children learn to cope with it making this a very important and interesting book for me.
The warmth of Nadiya’s writing with the gentle illustrations by Ella Bailey make this paperback release a welcome addition to our ‘calm down and worry basket’
This book tells the story of how a boy’s worry monster has got too big recently, it’s always been there and always been big, but now it’s stopping the boy first do the things that make him happy, and then everyday things like get dressed or get to sleep.
The little bit has had enough and sobs to his grandmother, but maybe, just maybe that’s what has been needed all along.
My children are rather fond of Nadiya Hussain’s Bake me a Story children’s books of which we have the first and the Celebrations editions. These books have been an accompaniment to my children’s toy kitchen for as long as we have had the books and the little stories compiled in there have always been an added bonus so we were curious to see what Nadiya would create in a picture book.
The storytelling reflects some other powerful books on mental health and resilience such as When Sadness Comes to Call by Eva Eland and a personal favourite Ahn’s Anger by Gail Silver and Christiana Kromer where the emotion is personified in a way that helps children understand that it’s the emotion not something fundamental about themselves. By personifying worry it shows that this is a part of them rather than the whole self which is a powerful and empowering difference to make to a child.
The book is rather soothing but also relatable, with the worries first interfering in small things and working up to big things. I spoke with Littlefae about this book and she says it’s really clever, she says she has one sometimes, but she also says that mine is big right now (although I admittedly do have complex anxiety it’s perhaps understandable in the world context at the moment though) and that I need to make it smaller 😭. *
This was of course heartbreaking (and not good for my worry monster) to hear and acknowledge, but shows a powerful lesson in empathy too that she can recognise that others have worries too and so may be useful to use with children whose parents or regular caregivers themselves have problems with worry or panic disorders.
The book doesn’t demonise worry as shown by Ella’s soft colour palette and a non-scary ‘Worry monster’ nor insist you should MAKE it go away. The illustrative benevolence of the Worry monster has a Totoro-like feel, and there is the suggestion the worry monster is caring but of course misplaced intentions.
The narrative stresses the concept that Acknowledging and validating our worry is often all that is needed to reduce our worry, a ‘problem Shared is a problem halved’ and recognising that a little worry is easy to cope with (and sometimes useful to make us avoid dangerous situations) but when worry blocks us from experiencing joy and our view of the world is when we need help.
This is so beautiful to acknowledge that having a little worry isn’t something to worry about (and thus make the monster grow!!) but also encourages talking about our worries rather than stuffing them in metaphorical cupboards nor letting them rampage through our lives unchecked.
Overall, this is a powerful tool to add to the mental health collection encouraging children to get it off their chest than keep their worries in. incredibly powerful right now, but also lessons in life to make healthier more resilient future adults.
Thank you so much for joining me and make sure you check out the other stops on the blog tour!!
My Monster and Me by Nadiya Hussein and Ella Bailey is published by Hodder Books
Thank you so much to Hachette for my copy and inviting me on the Blog Tour💜
*Note I worried extensively about including this fact that I worry on the blog post reviewing a book about worrying about worrying – 🙈