Matt’s Swirly World (Madeleine Matthews)

Hello, friends! Our book today is is Matt’s Swirly World, written by Madeleine Matthews and illustrated by Cristina Diana Enache, a calming story to help children deal with frustration and anger.

Matt and his mom have had a lovely day at the park, and it’s nearly time to go home. Matt’s mom gives him a five minute warning and lets him choose his last activity. But when time is up and she goes to collect him, Matt feels angry and frustrated, and throws a tantrum. Keeping her cool, Mom calmly empathizes with Matt, then leads him through a calming guided meditation. She encourages him to view his emotions as a storm, his tantrum as a protective little dragon, and his calming thoughts as a benevolent fairy. Afterwards, Matt feels much better, and mom promises that they can return to the park tomorrow.

We were pretty critical of Matthews’s last self-published book, but this one has definitely taken steps in the right direction. While many of the same problems are present (frequent spelling and grammatical errors, plot and narrative holes, etc.), this story has a far more focused sense of purpose. Seeking to provide parents with a tool to help children deal with their emotions is always good, and while this sort of guided meditation may not work for all kids, it’s not a bad tool to have in any parenting toolkit. In this regard, the story works well at describing how to help this way: remain calm, encourage the child’s calm, use kid-friendly imagery to help them visualize their frustrations. What doesn’t work as well is the story’s guided meditation, which is slightly convoluted and confusing. The best quality here is the artwork, charmingly serene watercolors that capture the tone and intent of the story well. There’s still a lot of improvements to be made, but Matt is on the right track, and worth a shot. Baby Bookworm approved.

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the author in exchange for an honest review.)

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