Lost Kites and Other Treasures by Cathy Carr (Amulet Books, February 2024) addresses anxiety and other mental illness with a middle-school story featuring Franny, who escapes to making creative “found” art when things start to feel overwhelming. Although Franny tries not to think about her absent mother and the traumas of her early life (after

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In the picture book Sensitive by Sara Levine and illustrated by Meherdokht Amini (Carlrhoda Books, October 2023), an unnamed girl hears complaints against her about her being too sensitive, “thin skinned,” and over-reactive. In the illustrations, which are done in a variety of media, these words from others slip through her “thin skin” and crowd

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Just as I felt after I read Long Way Down, I feel that the middle grade novel-in-verse Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2020) gave me a window into a different world. In this story, ZJ is dealing with his father’s progressive cognitive decline, which comes with nightmarish migraines, mood swings,

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The graphic novel memoir Stitches by David Small (W.W. Norton, 2009) haunts the reader with stories from David’s troubled childhood in stark black, white, and gray illustrations. David’s childhood seems oppressive, and the variety of perspectives that David uses to show the seas of faces around him gives an added feel of overwhelm that correlates

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The Gray by Chris Barron (Feiwel & Friends, June 2023) tells the story of a young teenager with anxiety that experiences panic attacks. During his forced device-free vacation in the country with his aunt, Sasha finds his own confidence. His trip into the country becomes one of self-discovery as he makes new friends and faces

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A Work in Progress by Jarrett Lerner (Aladdin, May 2023) is a middle-grade novel in poetry about an overweight boy struggling with bullying, his weight, and a growing eating disorder. Told in first person and accompanied by emotional sketches, A Work in Progress shares the spare thoughts of a sixth-grade boy who has struggled with

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OCDaniel by Wesley King is a much needed added addition to Young Adult collections, as it puts a frequently taboo subject (mental illness) at the center of the story. OCDaniel is about a middle school boy suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but he does not quite know what it is. He feels progressively frustrated with

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Nest by Esther Ehrlich (Random House Children’s Books; published today!) is an emotionally charged novel about a young girl facing stark change after her mother develops a serious disease. Naomi, “Chirp” to her family and friends, is a bird-loving sixth grader on Cape Cod in the early 1970s. Her life is full of nature and

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The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (1929). Some books are nearly impossible to explain in words, and The Sound and the Fury is one of them. You must experience it. It is narrated by three siblings in three different years in the early 1900s, one of whom is a mentally challenged man, Benjy, who has no

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Yesterday evening I returned home from my classics book club meeting very sad. We read Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, and when I last read it, I remember wishing I could read and discuss with other classics readers. My classics reading group (last year, a total of four of us) agreed to give it a

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