Monday, June 6, 2022

Review: Toby, Toby, Worry Free by Lucinda Grapenthin, PhD

Today's read is another switch-up from the original schedule...I'm not doing well on that end this month, am I?  But for my defense, I made a 'surprise' road trip to visit my oldest, which threw me totally off-beat...and there were some schedule/review changes on the practical end, too. 


Today's read swirls around worry and a super, cute octopus. I'm very picky on these 'help' picture books, since there are tons and tons available, but this one caught my attention, and...well...let's just continue on and see, okay? 

by Lucinda Grapenthin, PhD
Illustrated by Kevin Gosselin
Family & Child Development Center
Picture Book
32 pages
ages 4 to 8

When Toby is faced with learning to ride his bike so he can play with his friends, he begins to worry and worry and worry.

"What if I fall?" "What if other kids laugh at me?" "What if I can't ride my bike?!"

Mommy pauses, attuning to his behavior. She accepts his emotions and calmly engages with him, encouraging his discovery of positive steps to solve this dilemma.

Toby learns a better way to manage his feelings by using his can do thoughts. Now, he can have fun!



Worries, nervous butterflies, and insecurities bind around a super-sweet octopus in an interesting and useful read.

Toby's friends want him to ride his bike with them, but Toby is too scared to try. He knows it's too easy to get hurt and has no clue how to even start. His mother takes him out and teaches him, which works okay, but it still doesn't mean he's ready for a bigger ride. As his tentacles tighten and stress eats at him, he's not sure how he'll ever succeed...or if he even wants to.

At first, I wondered about an octopus trying to ride a bike, but this was an ingenious choice on the character front. Toby is a cute creature with tons of heart, and so easy to connect with from the first page on. Watching him twist together and tighten as his worries grew reminded perfectly of the horrible nervous state, when worry and uncertainty really roots down. The visual was spot on. But then, Toby is an adorable character anyway, which readers will wish they had living next door.

This picture book is a little longer on the text side, making it appropriate for listeners with a bit more stamina on the listening end...not to say that it's boring, though, because it's not. The tale follows Toby from his first tries to the first learning moments, and then takes it a step further than many books on this topic would, but not making him an awesome bike peddler right away. Instead, Toby faces the next uncertainties, such as a longer ride with unexpected bumps and up huge hills...all of these 'scary' in their own right. But this last part is also run over quickly, keeping the tale from dragging on.

The illustrations are well done and accompany Toby in a way, which him easy to sympathize with. Listeners can thumb through these on their own and follow his tale afterwards.

The message is obviously there, but the author does a good job at bringing it across in a more natural way. Toby's family reminds him that he can do it over and over again. This is wholesome and doesn't come across as especially preachy, either. 

At the end of the book, the author quickly sums of the P.A.U.S.E. method of dealing with anxiety, but again, offers it quickly and understandably without going overly deep. 

This is a cute story and works especially well for those, who want to remind young readers that the 'can' do something and not necessarily to allow their worries to hold them back.

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