No Trolls Allowed Guidebook, by Kerry Orchard, illustrated by Roberto Gonazlez
[This book was provided free of charge by Author’s Den/Burroughs Manor Press. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
It is the nature of anxious people–children as well as adults–to see in their anxiety  threats that most people do not think even exist, and this book inventively and creatively turns that tendency into a guide on dealing with trolls that is both entertaining as well as deeply thoughtful. Mental health issues come with a high degree of stigma and this book does a good job at providing a creative way for anxiety to be acknowledged and handled without leading someone to be viewed in a negative way. We are prone to have an indulgent approach to those who engage in various means to reduce their anxiety if it is framed as a way of dealing with a threat that they can see that no one else can see, while the thought of seeing someone as afflicted with an anxiety disorder as something of a weakling. As someone who certainly has dealt with more than my fair share of mental health issues over the course of my life, I found this book a deeply sympathetic one and one that addressed a serious matter in a kind way.
The book itself is written in a winsome way, beginning with an assumption that anyone who reads this book is likely to have struggled with anxiety or knows someone who has in a lighthearted way. Then there is a mockumentary style approach to describing trolls and how they can be identified. There are rules to dealing with trolls and a mock organization (Kids Against Trolls In School) to help deal with the problem of trolls. The author then manages to have a sly discussion about how school is a particularly anxious place and that it is important not to panic and to protect oneself and others. The author then cleverly notes that attempts on the part of children to deal with anxiety and inform others can have negative repercussions, but that it is important to be brave anyway. After commenting on being loud as a way to overcome anxiety, the author then moves to a discussion of a safety zone that involves quiet, calming music, deep breathing and counting to ten, squeeze toys, and visualization exercises, after which point the book ends in a documentary-like fashion.
This book offers some thoughtful ways for children to deal with the problem of anxiety, showing how children can often deal with it in ways that bother other people–like raising their voice at the threats that they perceive that no one else can, while effectively providing useful tips on how to deal with anxiety in a way that is likely to encourage children to think that these ways amount to children being a part of a secret society or dealing with adults that don’t understand them as is common for children to think. As is the case with the author’s work in general, there is a mixture here between lighthearted silliness and a conscious wrestling with serious issues. The book, in its own genial fashion, demonstrates to children reading this book or having it read to them that they are not alone in being anxious or in seeing situations as threatening that others do not. And it is certainly true that school is a particularly anxious place for many people, though there are other places that are similarly anxious that have the same concerns of being watched and judged for one’s performance. There is a great deal of enjoyment in reading this book, even if anxiety and the way that anxiety is viewed and treated by others is seldom a laughing matter for many people.
 See, for example: