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spry sparrow book coverReviewed by Leigh Adamkiewicz

Anxiety and depression are the worst. Especially when you’re a kid. Having been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder as a young child, I know how isolating it can be. I know how it feels when your thoughts suddenly shift and all you feel is the world closing in. You can’t stop focusing on what could happen, what could be around the corner, and all the ways you should have tried to prevent it.

Worse of all, it feels like you’re the only one who’s suffering. No one else seems to see things you do. And you’re terrified of telling anyone. Who else would know how this feels?

Spry Sparrow: From Drab to Fab, written by Donna Hammontree, is a refreshing treat that proves otherwise. Written to help kids at the 3rd grade level, this colorful picture book shows that even happy sparrows can feel a little anxious.

The book itself is delightful. The story mirrors the real-life emotions that come with anxiety or depression. They show how real life consequences can come from the turmoil in your head. But they also show – gently and kindly – that redirecting a pattern of obsessive thoughts is easier than you might think. And all of this is accomplished with a soft, reassuring tone.

The skills of illustrator Julie Grant are on full display here. Her color palate is simple, but she easily uses it to express a wide range of emotions. The illustrations of the different regional birds are equally charming.

I did have some small issues with the complementary text to parents and therapists. There’s so much to be said that the text ends right before the first page of pictures. Most adults would simply skip over that and get to the good stuff. But skipping over something like that would have triggered me as a child. (“Why am I not supposed to read all those words? Am I not good enough to read it? Is the book trying to trick me into doing something?”) But I can understand that’s more of a personal concern, based on my own experiences.

I wish I could have had a book like this when I was first diagnosed. It understands its audience, and shows how small victories are important. This is a lovely book with an important message, and I recommend it for anxiety sufferers of all ages.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Leigh is a fearless writer who never met a genre, subject, or format she didn’t like. She has written professionally for the past six years and enjoys biking, exploring odd corners of Northeast Ohio, and discovering those good books she hasn’t read yet.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Donna Hammontree.