My amygdala is named Petal: A book review

Kids can do amazing things with the right information. Understanding why anxiety feels the way it does and where the physical symptoms come from are powerful steps in turning it around, writes Natalie Moutafis, in this review of the children's book, Hey Warrior.

Your first few thoughts when you read the headline of this article were likely:


1 – Why has she named her amygdala, or

2 – What is an amygdala? or

3 – How do you pronounce that?!
(Hint, it’s: uh-mig-duh-luh)

Your amygdala is the tiny part of your brain that makes you feel anxious, as explained in the book Hey Warrior, written by psychologist Karen Young and illustrated by Norvile Dovidonyte. It talks about anxiety in kid-friendly terms, but it’s also likely that as a grown-up you’ll find it useful too.

This book will help parents (and educators) guide their children through dealing with feelings of anxiety, while also providing useful tools to cope.

Always remember, anxiety is a sign that you're about to do something really brave.

It’s beautifully illustrated, with a protective-looking blue fuzzy character taking the form of the amygdala, personalising it for children and immediately making them feel more comfortable with it. The simple yet clever descriptive text allows the reader to understand the various forms that anxiety can present in and allows them to own their emotions and be at ease with their feelings – an important life-skill for everyone, of any age.

The book includes ‘The Cool Things About You’ checklist to help children understand the things that make them wonderful, building up their self-esteem.

Hey Warrior is best suited from ages 5+, but you could start introducing this to younger children by discussing the illustrations and naming the different feelings.

This video from Karen Young’s website gives you a sneak peek into the book and what the illustrations look like:

I hope this book finds its way into your family bookshelf, as I’m sure it’ll be one that children will revisit and find comforting as they navigate the sometimes-tricky feelings when growing up. For now, I’m going to tell my amygdala to ‘settle Petal’ because this year has been an awkward one so far.

This is the first in a series of reviews of children’s books, both new and released in recent times.

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About the book

Hey Warrior is published by Hey Sigmund Publishing and retails for $19.95. You can purchase from Karen Young’s website Hey Sigmund or from your favourite bookseller.