I Don't Want to Go

written by Addie Meyer Sanders
illustrated by Andrew Rowland

Addie Meyer Sanders' I Don't Want to Go
illustrated by Andrew Rowland

Book review by Sherri Trudgian

Ages 4-8

New Experiences Make Me Nervous!

Want to eliminate those apprehensive jitters? The doctor’s prescription: one reading of I Don’t Want to Go by Addie Meyer Sanders once a day for several weeks. This medication should be accompanied by lots of hugs.

Some children jump into new adventures with a sense of excitement. Others are more reluctant. A younger child can be terrified of anything out of his/her normal routine. Our job as parents is to reassure them that everything will be all right.

Joey’s new adventure is to visit his grandparents minus the security of his mother and father.

“You’ll have a wonderful time.”

Mother tries to sweeten the pot by telling him that he is to travel by train. This information doesn’t assuage Joey’s fears which are presented to the reader in bubble thoughts. He is going to have to leave his goldfish behind. All his toys won’t fit into his suitcase. Although Joey loves trains, he’s has never actually ridden on a real one. It is sure to be scary!

“I don’t want to go!”

The trip, however, proves to be exciting. Hanging out the window with the wind blowing through their hair, Joey and Grandpa get to see and hear the “clickety-clack” of the train as the cars follow behind them. The conductor surprises Joey when he presents him with an engineer’s hat.

Grandma has prepared a room for Joey complete with lots of new toys. Trying to help Joey feel comfortable, she lets him eat a bowl of cereal just like he eats with his dad before bed.

Apprehensive of the shopping expedition next morning, Joey crouches down hugging his knees. He just knows he will have to push the cart, carry the heavy bags of groceries and his teeth are sure to chatter while walking the freezer aisles.

Joey’s grandparents want him to enjoy his visit. “Enjoy” is the grandparent code word for “spoil him rotten!” Not only does Joey get a cookie and cheese sample but Grandma lets him pick out five of his favorite foods which includes a watermelon, grapes, peanut butter, ice cream, strawberries and blueberries. Did I miscount? I think that was six. Oh well, Grandma loves peanut butter too!

Grandpa wants to take Joey fishing. All Joey can think about are the negatives: worms, hooks, stinky fish and the possibility of being fish food himself. Instead, Joey is pleasantly surprised when Grandpa teaches him how to cast. He also laughs as the fish swim around his hip-waders in the stream. How cool is that!

Later that afternoon Joey gets to attend the obligatory cousin’s birthday party. Afraid that the kids won’t play with him and maybe even laugh at him, Joey doesn’t want to go. Sporting a black eye-patch, Joey searches for hidden treasure along with four other pirates. Filling their pockets with gold doubloons, the motley crew purchase “dirt and worms” for dessert.

On the fourth day Joey accompanies Grandma to the museum where she volunteers. Of course he doesn’t want to go. He’s afraid of getting lost. Besides, the dinosaurs, mummies and knights might chase him. Both Joey and Grandma are surprised this time. Joey has a wonderful time and Grandma is impressed by Joey’s extensive knowledge of dinosaurs.

The night before he is to leave, Joey and Grandpa set up a tent in the backyard. Joey doesn’t want to sleep outside. All he can think about are the creepy crawly bugs and other things that might be hiding in the dark. Grandpa makes a campfire to light up the night and for roasting marshmallows. As they gaze up at the twinkling sky, Grandpa points out the constellations. Grandpa reassures Joey that he, like “Orion”, will always be there for him.

All good things must come to an end. Joey’s mom and dad come to pick him up. Of course we are not surprised when Joey says, “I don’t want to go!”

As a teacher Addie Meyer Sanders is familiar with the needs of children. Children need a stable environment, and she has surrounded Joey with loving parents and grandparents. Each set of circumstances reassure Joey that trying something new can be a good thing. She manages to calm the anxieties of a most apprehensive little boy.

Andrew Rowland’s front cover invites the prospective reader in to share with the emotions of this little boy. Joey is hiding behind his security, his teddy bear. The big ears and outstretched arms of teddy are indicative of Joey’s need for help and understanding.

Grandma and Grandpa, although grey and slightly wrinkled, are gentle not scary. Two illustrations in particular depict the love these grandparents have for their grandson. Joey stands atop a stool stirring Grandpa’s secret spaghetti sauce. Grandpa stands behind with his arm around Joey’s waist not only to steady him but to feel the closeness. Later we catch a glimpse of their profiles as they gaze up at the stars. Grandpa’s one arm holds Joey close as he points out the constellations with the other. A sweet scene in which any parent would love to see their child included.

My only disappointment with this book was my assumption (from the title) that the subject of homesickness would be addressed. I well remember missing my parents when I was away with my grandmother. I felt that something might happen if I wasn’t there to protect them.

It may not be a cure-all but I believe Addie Meyer Sander’s story will soothe the fears of most children. Whether your child has negative or positive expectations, is apprehensive or adventurous, they are certain to enjoy I Don't Want to Go.

Read more of Sherri's reviews.

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