by Liz Parks
Aimed at youngsters aged five and over, The Nervous Knight focuses on a knight who is in training and who never takes off their armour because they are afraid of what might happen. While the knight’s friends join in jousting sessions and go for ice cream after archery practice, the knight is too scared to take part in case something bad happens.
Written and illustrated by Anthony Lloyd Jones, The Nervous Knight details how worry manifests itself physically for the knight, explaining the bodily sensations that anxiety can bring about. It also shows what happens when the knight opens up to a friend who persuades them to take part. When they fall off their horse in front of their friends their worst fears are realised – but their friends help them back up and the knight understands that their fear was far worse than the reality. Their friends then talk to them about things they are afraid of and how they manage these worries by talking to peers, hugging a pet or going for a walk. The knight then decides that they want to join in with more activities and that this would be easier without being weighed down by a heavy suit of armour so, slowly, they take it off and realise that they can manage better without it.
Choosing a knight as the central character in a book about overcoming worry and anxiety is a great way to explore themes which are a huge issue for many children and which can be very difficult for adults to raise. I read The Nervous Knight with my five-year-old son and found it was a real opportunity to open up a natural and easy discussion around how anxiety feels and the use of healthy coping strategies to tackle it. The story itself is enjoyable to read with children and is easy for them to engage with and understand. It’s written using simple language and the illustrations are vibrant and colourful.
Personally, I loved the way the illustrations depict a mixture of medieval and contemporary reference points and how they manage to convey the knight’s emotions, despite their suit of armour and helmet. Gender neutral pronouns emphasize the universality of the knight’s fears and a section at the end of the story, written by a children’s mental health expert, suggests ways that parents and professionals can use the book to help children with their own anxieties – it also suggests further resources to help young people and families.
If you want to have a conversation with children about worry or anxiety, reading The Nervous Knight with them is a great starting point that will help to frame a discussion in a natural and positive way. Highly recommended.
Thrive is working with Jessica Kingsley Publishers to review relevant titles focusing on mental and emotional wellbeing so look out for more reviews in the future. The publishers are also offering Thrive practitioners a 25 per cent discount on this title. To claim this discount on the Nervous Knight, please use the code: THRIVE21 at the checkout when ordering from https://uk.jkp.com/