Book Review: Ruby’s Worry, by Tom Percival

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Ruby loves life. She loves to swing, she loves exploring and she loves playing by herself in her garden.

One day Ruby realises she’s not alone. Her new companion follows her everywhere. It’s next to her on the park bench. It’s staring at her when she’s at the breakfast table. It’s watching her while she’s in the bathroom and it even follows her to school. No one else seems to notice but Ruby. It’s always there. It’s a worry! At first, it’s only a small worry, but soon it begins to grow. Before long—even though she tries to ignore it—Ruby can’t think of anything else. Her small worry has become a very BIG worry.

One day, when Ruby realises she’s not the only one with this problem, she takes a simple step that results in a satisfying and reassuring outcome. A problem shared, in Ruby’s case, is a problem solved.

Ruby’s Worry is the creation of English writer and illustrator Tom Percival. As well as writing and illustrating his own picture books, Percival produces illustrations for children’s fiction; past projects include Skulduggery Pleasant, The Chronicles of Egg and Shiverton Hall. The sunshine-yellow cover of this attractive paperback features pigtailed Ruby and her fuzzy ball of worry. A muted colour palette throughout most of the book puts the emphasis on Ruby and her reactions to her growing problem. At the end of the story, when Ruby’s world changes, there’s a burst of rainbow colour. Ruby’s facial expressions make it clear what she’s feeling in each scene, and her worry—although obvious—is never frightening or threatening.

Children’s lives are increasingly busy, and many children feel isolated despite being surrounded by others or connected online. Ruby’s Worry highlights the importance of speaking up when something is wrong. It emphasises the value of expressing feelings and looking to friends and family for support when times get tough or overwhelming.

The confidence and ability to manage our own difficulties and build resilience are crucial skills in this world where anxiety levels are rising at an alarming rate. Ruby’s Worry is a beautiful introduction to the concept of recognising and acknowledging one’s feelings and is an essential addition to any young child’s bookshelf.

Reviewed by: Jo Vabolis
Twitter: @JoVabolis

Rating out of 10: 10

Distributed by: Bloomsbury Australia
Released: August 2018
RRP: $14.99

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Ruby’s Worry is a beautiful introduction to the concept of recognising and acknowledging one’s feelings and is an essential addition to any young child’s bookshelf.

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