Wally and the Whatifs is a terrific resource for therapists, children, parents and teachers. It addresses anxiety, the most common mental health issue in our society, and something many children suffer with. Author Amanda Garrigues’s relatable main character, young Wally, worries about things every kid (and adult) can understand: What if I have to climb the rope in P.E.? What if they laugh at my new haircut? What if I can’t find a seat on the bus? The words, story, and overall message are comforting, on-target and accessible while the illustrations (by Kate Hanson) are adorably funny and evocative. Through making a friend, distraction, and some sound advice from Mom, Wally starts talking back to the What Ifs (among other strategies). By the end, Wally is empowered in ways all readers will relate to -- and can emulate. I’ve added Wally and the Whatifs it to my list of favorite resources on anxiety and recommend it to clients!
Lisa Wolcott, MSW, LCSW, CGP, CDWF-C
Wolcott Counseling and Wellness, LLC www.lisawolcott.com
"What if someone is sitting in my seat when I get to my class?"
"What if everyone laughs at my haircut?"
"What if I have to do the rope climb in P.E.?"
As soon as I started reading this book with my boys, I felt myself nodding. We deal with these same kinds of questions every week in my house. The curiosity of what COULD happen next is prevalent in their little, but growing minds.
Sometimes, often times, the situations that seem so simple or mundane to adults can be absolutely overwhelming to children. And these anxiety-inducing scenarios can stop kiddos in their tracks.
Childhood is supposed to be fun and carefree, but it can also be intense and nerve-wracking to many children. Some of the everyday circumstances they face can seem extremely scary, and many kids (from toddlers to teens) fret and stress about the "Whatifs" of the situation.
"Wally and the Whatifs" shows Wally's daily struggle with those pesky Whatifs. He is faced with question after question all day, and the uncertainty of what might happen weighs on him. But he doesn't know how to silence the Whatifs. And then his mom offers some sound advice.
She suggested maybe Wally should stop and face those Whatifs and even become friends with them. At first, he couldn't imagine it. But then, in yet another stressful moment with those Whatifs, he decides to put his mom's plan into action. And we see a whole new Wally emerge. Yay, Wally!
I read every night to my little guys, and have read every kind of book from sweet, fictional stories like "Curious George" to nonfiction, fact-filled books about sharks and squids. But, I don't know how many have created conversations like "Wally and the Whatifs" did.
Both of my sons made comments while we were reading, and then weren't ready to move onto the next book when I'd finished because they had several questions and feelings about Wally's situations. I loved that!
I loved that it made them think. And it made their busy minds stop and really soak something in, actually ponder a similar situation in their own minds and ask themselves, "What would we do?"
I think that might just be the best feature of this book. The fact that it is relatable to every person who reads it, both young and not-so-young. We can see ourselves in Wally's predicaments--and we can see a way to get out of them.
What a beautiful power to have--and to pass along to someone else fighting off their own Whatifs!
Love (and face your Whatifs) more,
39ish life blogger