Woefully Worried Wilma
by Madelyn Anderson
Author’s Tranquility Press

"Each time you conquer,
A worry or woe,
You learn something new,
And it helps you to grow."

In this children's picture book, Mille is a young girl who has a very worried friend named Wilma. Wilma worries "from morning till night" about all the things that could happen to her if she steps out of her comfort zone. To Wilma, the simple act of going outside to play is fraught with dangers, such as bumping her toe, being too warm or cold, or meeting a moose. After three days of asking Wilma to come out to play, Millie finally convinces her friend that she might be missing out on actual fun. The girls go outside to play and encounter every hazard that had worried Wilma: wind, rain, a bumped toe, and, yes, even a moose. Millie is right beside her friend to comfort her when she needs it, and by the time Wilma has faced all of the challenges of the outside world, she comes to realize that none of them was as bad as she feared. She recovers from her worries in time to reassure the moose not to worry about his loose tooth.

One of the most striking features of this brief book is the compassion that the characters show toward other characters' worries and fears. Millie does not try to talk Wilma out of her worries or make light of them. Instead, she describes the fun that Wilma could have despite her fears. Wilma also does not make light of the moose's loose tooth but encourages bravery in the face of worry and emphasizes the lessons one can learn from persevering. Rather than urging someone not to worry about minor or unlikely problems, the story conveys the idea that with support and kindness, one can work through one's worries, no matter what size, and still have fun.

Wilma's fears are exaggerated and humorous, but they still resemble some of the anxieties that young children may feel about the world. The story does not offer reasons for Wilma's worries, nor does Millie require any explanations to help her friend. These features allow Wilma to serve as a stand-in for children with fears that outsiders may find ridiculous. Children going through changes and adjustments, or neurodivergent children in general, often struggle with transitions or new activities for the same kinds of reasons Wilma lists. Young worriers can feel empowered as they see Wilma navigate her fears. The compassionate tone toward even the silliest worries shows that the characters' feelings are valid and deserve empathy.

Every page features bright, simple illustrations that accompany stanzas written in a clear, large font. With only two named characters and short, lilting rhymes, the plot and the vocabulary are simple enough for very young children to follow. Early readers will be able to read the story to themselves, but the text shines most when read aloud. Though occasional lines of dialogue between Millie and Wilma do not rhyme, most of the book is written in a fast-paced, rhythmic rhyme reminiscent of Dr. Seuss' work. This tale is a fun, funny, and kindhearted look into a worried child's mind and a reminder of the power and importance of friendship.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

Return to USR Home