The Journal of Anxious Izzy Parker by Alma Fullerton

Izzy wants to be a lion. But mostly, she feels like a mouse.

The Journal of Anxious Izzy Parker by Alma Fullerton is a beginner chapter book shortlisted for the 2024 Ann Connor Brimer Award for Atlantic Canadian Children’s Literature.

Izzy has just moved from Toronto to a farm on Prince Edward Island, that was once a bed and breakfast. She does not like change or leaving her best friend Jane or her Dad, but the sounds of the waves and seagulls, the slower pace of life, having her own craft room (bunkie), and a soft-serve ice cream machine in their new kitchen helps to balance out most of the negatives of moving.

Izzy struggles with severe anxiety. Her old classmates would call her a mouse saying she was too quiet and scared of everything. 

Izzy struggles with severe anxiety. Her old classmates would call her a mouse saying she was too quiet and scared of everything.  But she was not scared of everything, just new situations, interacting with people, especially more than one at a time, and talking in front of people. She gets shy and nervous, her heart races and her stomach ties up in knots. She wants to be a lion, not a “scaredy mouse”.

Sometimes my heart races so fast it makes me too tired to speak.

(p. 40)

To calm her anxiety, she has learned to count to 90 or to take deep breaths, but sometimes she forgets to do so. Doing crafts and listening to the ocean helps to reduce her anxiety. She then gets an emotional-support dog she named Gandalf. Just like the wizard her dog was named after, Gandalf will magically help ease her anxiety.

Told from 8-year-old Izzy’s point of view, this quick read is written in a journal/diary-like style with 1-3 pages per entry, the perfect length for reading aloud in a classroom. Writing in this style feels as though Izzy is speaking to the reader or those listening to the story. Izzy’s relatable experiences will promote opportunities for discussions about anxiety, support animals, and coping mechanisms. Spin-off activities could include a visit from a support animal, a visit to a farm, making a craft, and my personal favourite, a trip to a place that serves soft-serve ice cream.

Alma Fullerton is an award-winning author- author/illustrator. She lives in North Lake, PEI with her husband and dog. Born in Ontario, Canada, she grew up in a large military family and has lived in Ontario, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Germany. Alma struggled with reading and memorized most things until the age of nine when, with the help of her grade four teacher, she realized she had dyslexia. By grade nine Alma loved reading. Besides writing and illustrating Alma now works in schools as an educational assistant who helps children with learning disabilities figure out the best way for them to learn.

Publisher: ‎Second Story Press (May 9, 2023)
Paperback 5.25″ X 7.5″ | 90 pages
ISBN: 9781772603163

Sue Slade has a Bachelor of Child Study from Mount St. Vincent University in Halifax. After working with children and adults with special needs, she now has her midlife dream job of working with books. Sue manages an independent, locally owned bookstore, Dartmouth Book Exchange. Through her charismatic sharing centred around books and community, Sue has created an engaging cornerstone for authors, customers, and book lovers of all ages. Sue is an avid reader and her reviews cross over many genres.