Score: 95+/100 (9.5+ out of 10)
Wren & the Worry-Vanishing Magic is by far one of the best children's books to ever come through our contest! It sits up there with the likes of Witches, Bats, and Mystical Cats by Julie Chapman, Do You Know the One? by Michelle Bentley, and The Only Blue Crow by Tuula Pere.
What makes this book so great? Well, first of all, the art/illustrations are perfect for the purpose they're meant to serve. They have a very anime-esque, cartoonish appearance that's cute, colorful, and appealing. The characters almost look like they're out of an early Studio Ghibli production like Ponyo or Kiki's Delivery Service (which might have served as a bit of an inspiration for Wren's design). In short, it looks great!
Wren's design is perfect for the purposes of this book! She's appealing, cute, and colorful, but not overwhelmingly so. You can tell that she's the center of this book's attention, but she's not the only person/thing on the screen that commands your attention. Instead, she is usually used like a cursor on your computer to point things out to you (the reader) or to another character. She's a great person, using the things and tricks that she's learned and gained from her experiences in order to help others.
We really fell in love with Wren as a character! She is one of our favorites so far this season for “Best Character!”
Furthermore, you can tell that actual work and effort went into crafting this. Everything looks hand-drawn and hand-colored. The illustrator didn't just copy and paste some graphics, use AI, or do some cell-shading tricks. No, everything here looks genuine and legit.
Secondly, the purpose of this book is commendable and very practical. The book seeks to tackle individual anxieties and problems related to school life such as separation anxiety, performance anxiety, ADHD, perfectionism, and more!
There are practical and useful solutions for all of these, many of which deal with reframing or redirecting our thinking toward positivity and/or acceptance. There are also some interesting tricks like adopting a stone or plushy to help us to cope with stress.
Something else we really loved was the diversity of all of the students portrayed. Not only are the students ethnically and racially diverse, but they all have a diverse range of issues and personality traits. Some are living with issues unrelated to their anxieties. For example, Ashby is wheelchair bound, although it never comes up as her defining issue. Ashby fits right in with everyone else, and we love that.
As an aside, we wouldn't mind a Jasper's Magic Academy novel starring Wren and her classmates on some Harry Potter-esque adventures!
Check this out on Amazon!