Monday, February 18, 2008

Felix and the Worrier


Here's another book by Rosemary Wells. Like Yoko it is new-to-me. Again we're dealing with animal characters. I have mixed feelings about Felix as you'll see. Felix is good-to-go during the day. But at night, Felix becomes bogged down with worries. He has trouble sleeping at night because of all the worrying thoughts that pop up. These worries are personified as The Worrier. The Worrier is yellow and short. And dare I say it??? He's a bit freaky looking.
The Worrier hopped right in [from the window] and sat down. "I'm worried about that little black spot on your tooth," he said. Felix's clouds of happiness disappeared. Felix and the Worrier worried about the little black spot on Felix's tooth until the morning sun rose in the sky. "Bye-bye! " said the Worrier.
When morning comes, his mother's reassurances and calming presence makes all his fears, worries, doubts go away. He tells his mother what's on his mind, what's got him worried, what's got him down. And she is able to calm him, soothe him, tell him that everything is good, everything is okay, that his worries have been for nothing.

But at night, the worries creep back in. He worries about playing with other children at playschool, he worries about his birthday party, etc. On the night before his birthday, however, something happens that makes the Worrier vanish for good. That something is his birthday present--a small dog named Rufus.

What I like about the book. First of all, I like Felix. I didn't really know that many worried-and-anxious type book characters growing up. And I sure did need them. Believe me. But there wasn't Felix. There wasn't Wemberly. I think some kids do have anxious thoughts, worries, doubts, fears. And I think it's good that these real kids have fictional counterparts. And I like that the books illustrate that talking can help--talking to a parent, talking to a teacher, talking to a friend, etc.

But at the same time, this quick fix just didn't do it for me. Not really. If I'd read it as a kid, I would have thought all my problems could have been solved if I'd only been allowed to have a pet--a dog, a cat, etc. [That's not exactly true, at Felix's age, I was anxious about dogs.] There aren't really many quick fixes in life. Very rarely does a problem get solved with a magic poof. The story could easily have gone another way--a security object of some sort, a blanket, a teddy bear, a doll, etc. And all of these solutions--a pet, a toy, a blanket, a something--could help a person (a child) learn to cope, learn to self-soothe. There is no easy, quick solution. You can only deal with things one step at a time. You might calm your worries for the night, but sooner or later a new day, a new night is going to bring new worries for you to battle, to conquer. Worries just don't go poof. They have to be slain one at a time. But there is never a "completely finished, I'm perfectly cured, I'll never have another anxious thought as long as I live" moment.

But I mostly liked this one. It was good.

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