Title: Michaela Mason’s Big List of 23 Worries
Author: Alexa Moses
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Scholastic Australia
Published: 1st April 2021
Synopsis: ‘I’ve been making lists ever since I could write. It relaxes me.
By writing my worries down, I feel as if I’m removing them from my mind and leaving them on the paper. My secret worry list is the big boss of lists. Right now, there are 23 worries on it.’
New school. New town. 23 worries. Can Michaela Mason handle it?
- · A heart-warming new middle-grade series from Alexa Moses, CBCA 2020 Book of the Year Award shortlisted author and co-screenwriter for the Alice-Miranda movies
- · Michaela Mason is a strong female role model for living with worry, adjusting to change and finding your feet
- · Relatable scenarios, with gentle mental health themes woven through in a humorous way
- · Perfect for readers who are prone to worrying
- · Themes include identity, worry, place, family and friendship
Michaela Mason has just moved to Wombat Gully from Sydney after her mother has broken up with Dodgy Derek – and Michaela is not happy. She wants everything to be the same: her room, her school and her friends. Michaela has lots of worries, and it always helps her to make lists of them as well as everything else she has to worry about. She’s dreading starting the new school, because she doesn’t know how everyone will understand her worries. So when she meets Annabelle-Rose, Zoe and Skye – who call themselves the Pretty Posse – she thinks she has found the right friends. Yet something is not quite right, and perhaps it is her neighbour, Soo-Min, who will become the friend Michaela really needs, and who will, along with the teachers at school, help Michaela find her feet in a new and uncertain world, and maybe help her cross off one of her big worries!
Poor Michaela – she really went through it all in this book. Her struggles and worries were real and relatable, as well as universal for all ages. One of her big worries or fears is dogs – and this is a common theme as she adjusts to her new life. Seeing the world through Michaela’s eyes gives us a deep insight into who she is, and how she is growing and changing as the novel progresses. I loved that Michaela is the kind of student who loves English and history – I love seeing characters with different interests and strengths represented in literature, because it allows children and readers everywhere to see something of themselves in literature, whether it’s what we like or how we identify, it is all powerful and helps us to make sense of the world.
Her love of language shines through as she talks about words that she collects, and reads to two little kindy girls, both called Olivia, who always look forward to seeing her at lunchtime in the library, and the coming together of her friendship with Soo-Min, based as much on what makes them unique as the interests they share. This beautiful and diverse friendship really made the book for me, because Soo-Min and Michaela didn’t see the need to fit in with anyone else or be the same as each other – they could be themselves and help each other through things that they were uncertain about.
This joyful middle grade story reassures readers that it is okay to have worries and concerns, and that there are ways to work out how to deal with them. It also touches on friendship, and the importance of finding those people who like you for who you are, and not who they want you to be. It is a gentle and reassuring book, and one that celebrates being unique and finding that one true friend who will look past the superficial and stand by you against those who only see the surface as what is important.
This is a lovely start to what will be a delightful new series that celebrates friendship, creativity and individuality in an accessible and beautiful way that captures the universal experiences of growing up, moving towns and schools, making new friends and finding your way in life – things that we can all relate to even as adults, because worrying and finding your way through life doesn’t end at the age of ten, or twelve or when we leave school. It is something that is always with us, and Alexa has captured this perfectly.