Recommended Age Range: Preschool through Kindergarten.
Publisher's Summary: Fuzzy the Little Sheep is afraid to let his mother out of his sight. He follows her everywhere. He baaahs miserably if she needs to go out without him. “I’ll miss you too much.” “What if something happens to you?” “What if you don’t come back?” … When Fuzzy Was Afraid of Losing His Mother presents a number of ideas and strategies designed to help children think more positively about events and overcome their unlikely fears.
Dr. Annie's Takeaways
Recommended for: Young children with separation anxiety will likely benefit from reading this book with a caregiver or therapist. It introduces the idea that practicing separations will help the anxiety, not make it worse, and that caregivers aren’t being mean if they don’t accommodate their child’s separation anxiety. It easily leads into a conversation about how a child can cope with separations and how they and their caregivers can start practicing small separations to build up to bigger ones (i.e., graded exposures).
Would a child like it? A young child would probably like it, especially one who has an affinity for animals. Slightly older children might find it a bit boring or childish.
Tone: Sweet, reassuring
Story Quality: It’s a fairly cute, straightforward story about a little sheep who learns to cope with separation anxiety. It’s definitely a book for young children–it doesn’t have a lot of depth or complexity–but I think it succeeds in what it is trying to do (i.e., teach children and their parents how to manage separation anxiety in a non-threatening manner). There is some light humor and a hopeful ending.
Illustrations: The drawings look like they’re done with a felt-tip pen and watercolor, and they have a child-like quality to them. They’re cute enough and not creepy, but there are more artful illustrations out there.
Representation: Fuzzy is a male sheep. He has a mother, a cousin named Curley, and a hedgehog friend. The setting is a grassy field with apple trees and flowers.
Psychological Practices: This book does a nice job showing how separation anxiety can develop after a scare (Fuzzy scrapes his knees and can’t immediately find his mother), as well as how parental accommodation is well-intentioned but not usually helpful–Fuzzy’s mother comes up with different ideas to help Fuzzy feel less scared like running a dandelion chain between them, but none of the ideas help. The coping strategies presented in the book include: reminders that it is “likely” that the parent will return since they have many times before, positive imagery (e.g., “I can picture myself chasing a butterfly”), and imagining an invisible blanket made of a parent’s love. It also models graded exposure–by practicing the above techniques, Fuzzy is able to let his mother walk increasingly further away without following her until he is no longer afraid of separation.