The Worries: Shara and the Really Big Sleepover

Authored by Jion Sheibani
Published by Puffin

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Jion describes her ‘Worries’ collection as ‘fun, highly illustrated stories which [she hopes] will get kids talking about and working through their own worries.’ The Worries: Shara and the Really Big Sleepover is the third in the collection and tackles dealing with worries about staying away from home.

Shara is the big sister to Keita. Shara is described by her Baba (grandfather) as a fantastic big sister but tends to take on worrying about Keita as well as herself. They live with their mum, who is off to play in a wheelchair netball competition, and they need to stay with their Baba. This is when the worries reveal themselves. Over the course of the story, we are introduced to a number of different worries both Shara and Keita have, from Reece Sponsible, to Badbye, to Em Barrass-Ment. Each come with a quirky diagram and unique features to their worry.

However, they all share one common feature, as the worry grows, so do they, resulting in a variety of chaotic scenes readers will connect with as Shara, in particular, begins to feel overwhelmed and not in control. The ‘busy’ nature of each worry reminds the reader how demanding worries can be, especially if experiencing more than one worry at a time and/or they are carrying the worries of another.

The narrative reveals the power of talk and engaging in expressive outlets, playing out the proverb ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’. Jion, has created a sensitive book, based around a close family unit and school, with kindness at its heart. The use of different fonts, size of fonts, callouts, and illustrations make for a lively, engaging text, with humour interspersed as situations develop and resolve.

This is a book that could help open discussions about the things that worry us. It is well pitched for readers in Year 2 into LKS2 and can be read either as a whole class read, as a text for group reading, or offered as support to a young person who is the older sibling at home. As each book in the series explores different situations and families, it has appeal to a wide range of readers, who will likely connect with either the family and/or situation. The Worries is a welcome addition to the range of books out there to support readers with dealing with worry.

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