Priscilla Puppy Is Afraid of Everything -- May is National Mental Health Awareness Month


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Do you know that May is National Mental Health Awareness Month? According to the CDC, more than 5.8 million American children, aged 13-17, were diagnosed with anxiety disorders between 2016-2019. (Source) What is even more scary is that the number is increasing. According to psychologist Robert Leahy, "The average high school student today has the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the early 1950s." (Source) Hazel loves to tell me this all the time! Think of all the things that exist today in schools that did not exist previously. There is the fear of school shootings. According to Pew Research 57% of teens fear there will be a school shooting at their school. (Source) There is social media and cell phones. Now a humiliating mistake may be saved on-line forever! Plus there is cyber bullying and the stress it can cause. This year a student (or students) at Hazel's school took pictures from her Instagram account and created fake accounts trying to say she was dating a boy (who she barely tolerates) as well as other such things. It truly is scary what they can do. 

What is really scary to me is how young anxiety seems to begin. Hazel has had it since preschool. She suffered from separation anxiety at a young age but has had much more anxiety throughout her life. Today I get to share with you a book by Dr. Madeleine Vieira that is a therapeutic book and gives steps to helping fight anxiety for younger children. The book is Priscilla Puppy Is Afraid of Everything and illustrated by Alice Wong. It is recommended for children up to 12 years old.

About the Book: 

Priscilla has a BIG problem. She's AFRAID of everything. She worries about school work, making mistakes, and even worries about worrying. What's even worse is she's missing out on things she'd like to do, such as performing in front of an audience.

Her good friend Ollie Owl has an idea. Priscilla can overcome one of her fears by setting a goal. Taking several small steps toward that goal will help her achieve it. Wanting to play her violin in the school talent show, Priscilla agrees. As the steps become more difficult, Priscilla has to gather more and more courage to accomplish each one.

Can Priscilla achieve each step and overcome her fear even though sometimes her heart pounds and her stomach feels queasy?

Through storytelling, Dr. Madeleine Vieira's I'M AFRAID Anxiety Disorder Series teaches children to manage their anxiety symptoms. This book focuses on Generalized Anxiety and includes an About Anxiety page along with a Coping Strategies page and a Stepladder page. Parents and mental health professionals will appreciate this series aimed at relieving children's anxiety symptoms.

From Me:

With beautiful illustrations, Dr. Vieira shares a story of a young puppy who is afraid of everything. She is afraid of doing something wrong. She is afraid of making a mistake on a test. She is just always worried about something. I could relate as Hazel was this way and I was to some extent as well. Priscilla is so worried she cannot even enjoy playing with friends. Ollie, an owl, comes and offers to help her overcome a fear. He says he works with kids to overcome their anxieties so he is a professional and not another student. He takes her through steps to conquer a big fear--performing at the talent show. Throughout the story they discuss how scary and hard it is. Each step is scary for Priscilla, but Ollie shares different coping mechanisms with Priscilla. Many are ones I have heard shared with Hazel by her therapist. This book is a wonderful resource for therapists and professionals as well as parents of anxious children. The story is relatable to kids and the steps could be discussed for each individual child after reading the story. The back of the book has some coping strategies as well as a step ladder to fill in to overcome a fear. 

The characters are all animals, and the illustrations are beautifully done. The animals are all supportive and friendly. I can see children enjoying this story and it being a help for parents or therapists to encourage kids to try different steps to overcome a fear. I hope you will check it out. And please be kind to one another and take care of your own mental health!