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Wemberly Worried


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About the Author

Kevin Henkes is the award-winning creator of many books for children, including the Caldecott Medal Book Kitten's First Full Moon, the Caldecott and Geisel Honor Book Waiting, the Newbery Honor Books The Year of Billy Miller and Olive's Ocean, and several bestselling books about mice, including Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse and Chrysanthemum. www.kevinhenkes.com


PreS-Gr 1-Henkes once again puts his finger on the pulse of young children, combining good storytelling, careful characterization, and wonderfully expressive artwork to create an entertaining and reassuring picture book that addresses a common concern. Wemberly, a quiet and introverted mouse, spends all of her time worrying about big things (will her parents disappear in the middle of the night?), little things (spilling juice at the table), and things in between (will she shrink during her bath?). Despite the patient support of her family, she still frets that a tree will fall on her house or that she will lose her beloved doll. As if she doesn't have enough to stew about, the anticipated beginning of nursery school opens up a whole new world of woe. Happily, the first-day jitters are soon diminished with the help of an understanding teacher, lots of fun activities, and a new friend. In the watercolor-and-black-pen illustrations, Wemberly is depicted as a white mouse with big pink ears; her always-serious expression and the gray spot that covers one eye make her seem particularly vulnerable. While her parents' furrowed brows and affectionate embraces convey their concern for their daughter, Wemberly's feisty grandmother provides a bit of comic relief (she wears a sweatshirt that reads, "Go With The Flow"). Told with sensitivity and filled with perfectly chosen details, this story will speak to young worrywarts everywhere, and may provide some comfort to those about to begin nursery school or kindergarten.-Joy Fleishhacker, formerly at School Library Journal Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

"Henkes once again puts his finger on the pulse of young children, combining good storytelling, careful characterization, and wonderfully expressive artwork to create an entertaining and reassuring picture book." -- School Library Journal (starred review) "Wemberly shows that being human is cause for celebration, even if you're a mouse." -- New York Times Book Review "This winning heroine speaks to the worrywart in everyone." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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