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Reader Q&A with Jion Sheibani

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The Worries is a brilliant new illustrated series by Jion Sheibani, that deals with an important topic in a light-hearted and approachable way, for ages 5+. 

Book 1 in the series, described by the publisher as The Truth Pixie meets Inside Out, is Sohal Finds a Friend. Sohal has a lot of worries, so one night he decides to draw them to make himself feel better. But the last thing he expects when he wakes up in the morning is to find them come to life at the end of his bed! 

As Sohal's worries follow him around, he has no choice but to keep them under control, and maybe he can even have some fun in the process...

Toppsta readers loved this book and Alexandra, aged 8, said: "What I love about this book is that it shows that we are all different and we all have our own worries and they are not as scary as we think! It's a fantastic read".

Alexandra had the chance to ask author/ illustrator Jion some questions about her writing and her own worries. Read on for the Q&A and you can also download a free Draw Your Worries activity sheet here.

Toppsta
2021-02-25
Reader Q&A with Jion Sheibani
Alexandra, aged 8

1. What worries do you have? 

Too many to mention, haha! I have a worry like Fail who grows a bit just before my books come out and a worry like Hurt who worries about people I love getting sick. Because of Covid, it got a bit big but now we have the vaccine, it has shrunk - phew! 


Toppsta
2021-02-25
Reader Q&A with Jion Sheibani

2. What place – Brighton, Iran, Paris - makes you worry the most?

Wow, that’s a really interesting question! I don’t think any of these places make me worried because they are all places where my family and friends are, with lovely memories and associations. I haven’t yet been to Iran, where my dad is from, but I would love to one day.

3. Was Sohal inspired by anyone you know (friends, family, yourself)? 

Oh yes, Sohal is inspired by everyone I know! Me, my kids, pupils I have taught...I find it really interesting how different people express their anxieties so I pay close attention to it. 

Toppsta
2021-02-25
Reader Q&A with Jion Sheibani

4. Are you going to make a “Worries” series? I would love that. 

Yes, I’ve just finished Book 2, Jaz & The New Baby, and hopefully there’ll be many more books after! 

5. Do you have any BIG and small worries? 

I don’t have any big worries thankfully, only a few small ones! Sometimes I imagine them as little figurines on my shelf, reminding me just how happy I am! 


Toppsta
2021-02-25
Reader Q&A with Jion Sheibani

6. Did anyone inspire you to be a writer and illustrator?

Jacqueline Wilson came to my school when I was 12 and that felt like a big moment. I loved her books because they were so honest and I felt like I could identify with the characters much more than most children’s books. As an adult I went on two brilliant Arvon courses, one led by Carol Ann Duffy and the other by Malachy Doyle. They taught me a lot and encouraged me to keep going with my writing. 

7. How long does it normally take you to make up and write your stories? 

It takes me about 5 months to write and illustrate a Worries book but it can take a lot longer for an idea for a book to blossom. The first drawing of The Worries sat in my portfolio for 7 YEARS before I had a clear idea of the story!!

8. Was it hard to draw the worries?

No it really wasn’t hard at first. When I started drawing them, it was like I knew them so well! I could even hear their voices in my head. What was hard was learning to draw them from different angles (side on, from the back etc) I nearly made playdoh figures of them to make it easier. Now that I draw every day, I can do that with any new character without thinking too much - but it took practice!


Toppsta
2021-02-25
Reader Q&A with Jion Sheibani

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9 .What’s your favourite worry (yes very weird question)?

My favourite worry in Book 1 is Babs. That feeling of being worried but not knowing what you’re worried about was very familiar to me as a child. Also the idea of being worried by the very act of worrying was something I wanted to bring into the story. Sensitive people can often feel that their worrying is a bad, almost guilty thing but in the right doses it is a sign of empathy. It felt really satisfying to turn these things into a funny and caring character like Babs.

10. When will Jaz And The New Baby come out?

It will come out on 16th August! I’m excited for you to read it. I also think the drawings are much better than Book 1 - probably because it wasn’t drawn in lockdown haha! 


Toppsta
2021-02-25
Reader Q&A with Jion Sheibani
How to draw The Worries
Book pages Placeholder Book

The Worries: Sohal Finds a Friend

.'Funny, sweet and very useful for opening conversations with anxious children' - Guardian

Everyone feels worried sometimes. But what if your worries came to life and started following you around?

Sohal worries about a lot of things: the dark, mutant sheep, being alone - you name it, he worries about it! So one night he tries drawing his worries to make himself feel better - and somehow they look a lot less worrying once they're scribbled down.

But then imagine Sohal's surprise when he wakes up the next morning to find a set of funny, furry friends at the end of his bed!

His worries have come to life, and it's not long before Hurt, Fail, Anger, Big and Alone have turned his world upside down. Now it's up to Sohal to work out how to keep his worries under control - and have some serious fun while he's at it!

The Truth Pixie meets Inside Out in this hilarious, highly illustrated new series, perfect for helping children gently work through their worries and concentrate on having fun.

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25th February 2021

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Cardboard Cowboys
Cardboard Cowboys

BOOK OF THE MONTH: Multi-award-winning author Brian Conaghan's first book for readers aged 10+ is a future classic about an unexpected friendship, brimming with humour and heart.

View book
Featured Books