Frazzled: Everyday Disasters and Impending Doom

Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
Frazzled: Everyday Disasters and Impending Doom Book Poster Image
Girl conquers middle school worries in fun graphic novel.

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Kids say

age 8+
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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Good messages on coping with anxiety and speaking up for yourself. Assurance that it's normal to feel uncertainty and self-doubt.

Positive Messages

Sometimes if you stop thinking so much, things just figure themselves out. Laughter can ease stress and fears, and being able to laugh at yourself can ease self-consciousness and nervousness. When your anxiety starts to gallop, your imagination is likely to conjure far more worrisome things than you're ever likely to experience. A little kindness and empathy goes a long way. It's OK to not have all the answers. It's also OK to try and fail.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Abbie cares deeply for her friends. Overwhelmed by worry, she stakes out a place of comfort and security and works hard to defend it. Her older brother is empathetic: He notices she's having a hard time and offers a shoulder to lean on. Her mother and aunt are supportive and encouraging, even though Abbie doesn't always understand or appreciate the way they show it. An intimidating teacher proves to be a caring, invested adult.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Frazzled deals with middle-school anxiety and stress frankly and with imaginative humor. This first novel by Booki Vivat reads like a warmer, gentler Diary of a Wimpy Kid with a diverse supporting cast, including a Chinese-American girl as the lead. Abbie Wu is consumed with very typical worries about middle school: finding her classes, choosing an elective, losing track of friends. The humor and content are spot-on for children nearing middle school. A few bossy older students call younger classmates "dweebs," and Abbie worries about being stuck with "weirdos" and "jerks."

User Reviews

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Kid, 9 years old March 27, 2018

Funny, reassuring book conquers school worries

Booki Vivat’s novel has a strong girl role model and help kids of all ages feel better about school. This book was reassuring, enjoyable, and funny, and I highl... Continue reading

What's the story?

Abbie Wu is FRAZZLED. She's stuck in the middle and knotted up with anxiety. She doesn't fit in at home, with her adorable sister, accomplished brother, and unflappable mom. She doesn't fit in at school, where her friends are pursuing new interests. But Abbie doesn't have a "thing" yet, and the pressure to choose is more than she can handle. The only thing she's looking forward to is lunch. But even that goes south when Abbie realizes only eighth-graders get the "real" food -- burgers, pizza, and chicken nuggets. Bringing lunch isn't much help, since there's always something she hates. Her peers, she notices, feel the same way. Soon Abbie's leading an underground lunch swap and thinking leadership just might be one of her "things."

Is it any good?

A winningly neurotic heroine, charming artwork, and a message about learning to take risks make this story about conquering middle school worries a fun read for anyone feeling stuck in "the Middles." Booki Vivat's debut, Frazzled, is a fresh and funny standout in the crowded field of graphic novels about the awkwardness of middle school.

Abbie is an especially sensitive tween, and Vivat portrays her tendency to be overly dramatic with good-natured humor. Plentiful black-and-white illustrations show Abbie's runaway imagination: A tidal wave of back-to-school paperwork looms over her at the beach, her mother traps her in a bakery display case to talk about school, and her friends drift away from her, suspended from balloons. Honest, chatty Abbie is a perfect ally for kids trying to find their own way through the Middles.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Abbie's difficulty choosing an elective in Frazzled. Do you find choices exciting or overwhelming?

  • Do you feel pressure to have a "thing"? Do you worry following one interest might mean you'll miss out on something else?

  • Have you ever been surprised by your own courage, the way Abbie is?

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