The Little Book of Big Fears by Monica Arnoldo. Book Review.

The book begins:

  • Everyone has fears,
  • some silly, some twisted.
  • So you don’t feel alone,
  • here are some listed…

I was rather excited at this point to learn a fear for each letter of the alphabet but unfortunately that’s not how the book is structured. The letters of the alphabet stand for the names of the children and the fears they experience have nothing to do with the letter. For example C is for Claire who recoiled from legumes. D is for Drew who hid from raccoons. Oddly A and B are missing from my copy of the book and there doesn’t seem to be any torn out pages.

Some of the fears are a little too suggestively illustrated. For example the child who is afraid of snakes has good reason to be. She is sitting on a picnic blanket with her doll and teddy bear and six snakes, several of which are bigger than her, are coming towards her. It is not clear whether this is her imagination or actually happening.

The book ends:

  • Everyone has fears,
  • some big, something very small.
  • it’s normal to get scared sometimes –
  • it happens to us all.

I think this makes the book worthwhile in that it reassures children that everybody has fears. Unfortunately none of the children overcome their fear and there are no afterwords about overcoming fears.

There is also another note at the ending that reads:

  • Learn from the missing letters –
  • to them you must look.
  • They were gutsy and brave
  • and so not in this book.

So that explains where the B is but I still don’t know where the A is. I confess I didn’t notice that the G was missing. This is an interesting touch but I don’t think it is worth having letters missing from the alphabet when you’re reading the book to a child. Perhaps those letters could have been included at the end with an explanation of how to be gutsy and brave.

The illustrations are good but, as I mentioned, some are a little disturbing. “Q was for Quinn, horrified by needles.” She is in the waiting room of the dentist’s office. The dentist is holding up huge needle which is amplified when the child sees it through the aquarium. Also in the aquarium is a set of dentures. I’m not sure if it’s a good idea to intensify a child’s nervousness about the dentist. The fearful children are well drawn and the pages are filled with frightening detail.

I would expect the intended purpose of this book was to reassure children that everyone has fears. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if they would find it reassuring for disturbing. It would be an okay book for children who don’t frighten easily but not for the sensitive child.

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