The Worry Website
is Mr Speed the class teacher's idea of a Web site for his primary school pupils to write their worries down anonymously and then get help with solving them from their peers. Jacqueline Wilson
has linked the worries of six children in the book through six short stories, and a seventh story is contributed by 12-year-old Lauren Roberts, winner of an online competition. Each story refers to the other class members, so that they do not sit in isolation, and "Greg's Worry", the second story, links particularly well with the first story, "Holly's Worry". From divorced parents to living with a disability, and from feeling useless at school to nightmares at home, Wilson has sensitively touched on the small and big problems that worry eight and nine-year-olds. Holly's story of wishing her potential stepmother turns out wicked brings a lump to the throat, while William's huge appetite but less huge academic achievements are described with knowing but kind humour.
Lauren Roberts' story "Lisa's Worry" perhaps tells more about the reality of children and their worries than Wilson's own upbeat versions--as Wilson herself says, Lisa's "story ends so sadly". Unlike the other stories, it does not have a resolution and Lisa is evidently not as keen as Holly, Claire, Natasha, Greg et al. to share her concerns with her class or her teacher. This suggests that a real-life "worry Web site" might not be so avidly subscribed to as Mr Speed's, a reminder that despite Wilson's effortless knack in engaging with children, some worries sadly appear to remain safer when fictionalised or unspoken. However, here's hoping that if there are many Mr Speeds around UK schools no child is going to remain unhappy for long--every reader couldn't help but smile if he was their teacher! --Olivia Dickinson
"The bestselling Wilson has quite a remarkable nose for what children think and feel, and the issues that concern them. She also has an accessible literary style that children love. In this series of linked short stories the two are married in perfect union" (Guardian
"Jacqueline Wilson's ability to explore disturbing issues within a framework of humour and insight shines through as ever" (The Bookseller
"Jacqueline Wilson has worked wonders again and produced yet another really brilliant book . . . A fab read!" (Girl Talk
"A smart, funny collection of short stories that should help kids sort out a few of their worries" (Daily Mirror