The children’s book Josie’s Busy Calendar is a timely look at change and anxiety by a Vancouver writer…
This book landed on my desk at exactly the right moment this spring – restriction guidelines were changing here in BC and some of my kids’ activities were returning to an almost-pre-covid level of schedule. The shift created a mix of emotions – plenty of uncertainty and, at times, anxiety for each of us.
So it was particularly timely to have a book in the house on this exact theme as we were living it. But the message itself is actually timeless – and ageless. Frankly, I need to learn the skills this book highlights myself – before covid and certainly after. And I’m sure I’m not the only one. Josie’s Busy Calendar, written by Vancouver writer Jenn Wint and illustrated by Allison Arndt, tells the story of little Josie, who – along with all her friends and classmates – finds herself stuck at home when everything shuts down. Though Covid isn’t mentioned by name, the implication is clear: her parents are working from home, school is being done at the kitchen table, and all her normal activities are on hiatus.
At first, Josie finds great joy in entertaining herself with crafts, running around the yard, and other solo activities. But eventually, she gets restless, bored and even sad. She misses school and her friends. When the time comes to go back, she’s thrilled – until she isn’t, because it all feels quite overwhelming all of a sudden. Her tummy hurts. She feels uncertain. And she doesn’t understand why.
Sound familiar? Many kids – my own included at times – experienced a similar series of reactions to all the changes over the last two years. But here’s the interesting part: so did I. My kids are homebodies, like their dad, but I’m more like Josie – I love a full calendar, I’m always making plans, and I’m an ambivert who leans towards the extrovert side. Covid changed all
that, and readjusting now is a slow process as I learn what I’m ready, and not ready, to do just yet. While I was reading the book to my daughter, I kept thinking “Josie, I’m so with you on this.”
Children’s books in general are increasingly tackling topics that aren’t always easy to talk about– or that kids may not even yet have the words for. Josie’s Busy Calendar fits right into that genre and would make a great addition right now to a child’s library across a wide spectrum of ages; my almost-12-year-old daughter requested I read it several nights in a row.
I don’t want to give away the highlights so I won’t spill all of Josie’s secrets in tackling her anxiety, but I will say this: parents, chances are good this is a message you could learn as well. I know I plan to schedule my own “Josie time” in the coming months.