Book review: Actually, I Can

Actually, I Can cover_medTitle: Actually, I Can
Author: Nicky Johnston
ISBN: 9780987092670
RRP: $16.95
Type: picture book
Publisher: Rough Draft
Publication date: 3 August 2013

Amelia is confident and loves going on adventures. Her friend Connor is shy, and worries about everything; he’s a ‘worry bunny’.

Amelia tries to entice Connor to try new things and be adventurous, but he worries about what might happen: what if they get into trouble for playing where they shouldn’t? What if those plums are poisonous?

With his friend’s help, Connor eventually realises that he doesn’t have to worry so much, and that he can have fun.

This is Nicky Johnston’s third book. She self-published her first, Go Away, Mr Worrythoughts!, to try to help her son overcome anxiety; her second, Happythoughts Are Everywhere …, continued with that theme. Both were quite successful, which isn’t surprising considering how many children deal with anxiety and worry. Actually, I Can is published by Rough Draft, and is a great follow-up to Nicky’s first two books.

Nicky manages to capture what goes on inside a child struggling with anxiety: wishing you could be different, a churning tummy, not wanting to eat. She also cleverly deals with Connor’s realisation that he can be adventurous, without being preachy. Her gorgeous illustrations complement the text very well. One or two words within the dialogue jumped out at me as being words a child probably wouldn’t say, but this is a very minor point in what is a lovely book, very accessible to children.

I recommend Actually, I Can for parents whose children are anxious or nervous – but children without this problem would certainly enjoy it too.

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