Wemberly Worried

Kevin Henkes, Author Greenwillow Books $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-688-17027-1
Henkes (Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse) introduces another wonderfully appealing child-mouse with a stubborn habit: worrying. Wemberly, a shy white mouse with gray spots, always feels nervous whether at home or away. ""At the playground, Wemberly worried about/ the chains on the swings,/ and the bolts on the slide,/ and the bars on the jungle gym."" She tells her father, ""Too rusty. Too loose. Too high,"" while sitting on a park bench watching the other mice play. Her security blanket, a rabbit doll named Petal (whose spot over the left eye matches her own), rarely leaves her grip. Henkes adroitly juggles the main narrative, hand-lettered asides and watercolor-and-ink imagery of the young pessimist and her supportive parents; each element contributes a different strength. For instance, as he lists Wemberly's worries, ""Big things"" heads the list, paired with a vignette of the heroine checking on her parents in the middle of the night with a flashlight, ""I wanted to make sure you were still here."" He later shows how Wemberly's anxieties peak at the start of nursery school with huge text that dwarfs tiny illustrations. At this overwhelming moment, Wemberly meets another girl mouse, Jewel, who turns out to be a kindred spirit (she even carries her own worn doll). Henkes offers no pat solutions, handling the material with uncanny empathy and gentleness; while playing with Jewel, ""Wemberly worried. But no more than usual. And sometimes even less."" This winning heroine speaks to the worrywart in everyone. Ages 4-up. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/28/2000
Release date: 07/01/2000
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