The Worry Jar
The Worry Jar
Lou John, illus. Jenny Bloomfield. Oxford: OUP, hb. 978 0 1927 8273 1, 2022, £10.99, 30pp.
Fiction, picture book, 0-5 years
Frida’s worries come in all shapes and sizes, just like the pebbles she collects.
Would she be able to manage the peas on her plate when she goes to tea at her friend Milo’s house? Would the slide in the playground be too fast? Would the water be too deep and would she forget how to swim when she goes to Saturday swim club? Her worries stay with her – all the time and they feel as heavy as the pebbles in her pocket. Then her beloved Granny comes to visit and, with the help of a large, empty jar, shows her an ingenious way of coping with them.
Young children can enjoy and identify with Jenny Bloomfield’s bold and colourful illustrations that perfectly complement the liveliness of the text and invite further involvement. Frida’s hunched shoulders and serious, wide-eyed facial expressions show just how worried she is. She looks isolated too. But after Granny’s help, young readers see a different Frida. She’s having fun and laughing exuberantly as she slides down the slide at speed, and at Saturday swim club the water isn’t too deep and she really can swim like a fish. And as for those peas on the plate, well, they have ceased to be a problem too.
On the front endpapers are rows of empty jars, while the same jars on the back endpapers are filled with varying numbers of pebbles: ideal for counting aloud.
This is a beautiful, heartening picturebook for sharing, in which author and illustrator explore with great sensitivity a little girl’s anxieties that had seemed to be taking over her life. It was chosen as The Sunday Times Children’s Book of the Week, August 2022.
Review by June Hopper Swain