"Though books on childhood anxiety are numerous, it is worth making space on the shelf for this one."


Way Past Worried

Written by Hallee Adelman,
Illustrated by Sandra de la Prada
Albert Whitman & Company

Part of the Great Big Feelings Series

Brock is worried. Way past worried, with his heart thumping and his mind racing. Today is his friend Juan’s superhero party and he’s going all by himself. What if nobody plays with him? What if everyone laughs at him? Brock doesn’t feel like a superhero, but… what if he can save the day and find a way past worried all by himself? This engaging story speaks to kids’ emerging emotional intelligence skills and helps them learn to manage worry.

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Brock may be dressed like a superhero, but he sure doesn’t feel like one as social anxieties threaten to rain on his fun.

Juan’s superhero-themed birthday party is about to start, but Brock is feeling trepidatious about attending without his brother as his trusty sidekick. His costume does not fit quite right, and he is already running late, and soon Brock is “way past worried.” When he arrives at the party he takes some deep breaths but is still afraid to jump in and so hides behind a tree. Hiding in the same tree is the similarly nervous Nelly, who’s new to the neighborhood. Through the simple act of sharing their anxieties, the children find themselves ready to face their fears. This true-to-life depiction of social anxiety is simply but effectively rendered. While both Nelly and Brock try taking deep breathes to calm their anxieties without success, it is the act of sharing their worries in a safe space with someone who understands that ultimately brings relief. With similar themes, Brock’s tale would make a lovely companion for Tom Percival’s Ruby Finds a Worry (2019) on social-emotional–development bookshelves. Brock is depicted with black hair and tan skin, Nelly presents White, and peers at the party appear fairly diverse.

Though books on childhood anxiety are numerous, it is worth making space on the shelf for this one.


"When venturing to a friend’s superhero birthday party, Brock finds himself overwhelmed with worries and fears. This book focuses on emotional intelligence skills to help kids like Brock move past their anxiety through ideas like deep breathing or finding a safe person to tell about your feelings. I’m so glad this book exists in the world. It’s exactly the type of read I wish I could go back in time and give to my child self.”

School Library Journal

Worries that are not addressed have a tendency to snowball out of control. Brock “feels a little worried” when he finds out his brother will not go to his friend Juan’s superhero-themed birthday party with him. Though Brock’s father tries to reassure him, Brock’s anxiety only grows. His costume seems too small, his friends ride past him on their way to the party, and he arrives late, each mishap adding to his growing list of concerns. Feeling left out and overwhelmed, Brock hides in a tree. To his surprise, he finds another child, Nelly, already there. After getting to know each other and talking about their worries, they feel more brave and join the fun together. Adelman’s first-person narration does a reasonable job conveying a child’s perspective without slipping into a moralizing adult voice. De la Prada’s appealing cartoonish illustrations depict a diverse group of kids in generic superhero costumes, with an assortment of capes and masks.

VERDICT A good addition to most library collections, especially those looking to add books on the topic of anxiety.