Cindy and Cristabelle's Big Scare

Book One of Lil' Steps Series

Children - Educational
72 Pages
Reviewed on 04/17/2020
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Author Biography

LUCY SLOAN is a counsellor and the owner of Lil' Steps Miniatures & Wellness Farm in St. Malo, Manitoba. After a terrible head injury turned her life upside down, Lucy learned firsthand the debilitating effects of anxiety. Two miniature horses proved crucial to her recovery, and from this experience the dream of Lil' Steps Farm was born. She has been providing children and teens with animal-assisted counselling ever since. 

"Each animal on the farm has a story to tell. I wanted to share their stories with other children with the hope of helping them to learn about mental health challenges and how to overcome them," says Lucy. 

Lucy lives with her family and her animal co-workers at Lil' Steps Farm, where together they play, explore nature, and enjoy being in the moment together....

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Cindy and Cristabelle's Big Scare: Book One of Lil' Steps Series is an educational animal storybook for children written by Lucy Sloan. Lil’ Steps Farm was a fine place for the animals and people lucky enough to be living there. The horses loved their green grassy areas; the sheep happily chewed their cuds, and Wilbert the Pig blissfully lounged in his mud puddle and breathed great, relaxing belly breaths. Cindy and Christabelle were the lone exceptions to the happiness and sense of well-being that was so evident at Lil’ Steps. They were fainting goats, you see, and they worried about everything. And when they were anxious or worried, they fainted. What did they worry about? Their lives were devoted to wondering “what if?” What if it was too hot or too cold? What if lions, bears, and coyotes came calling? Wilbert wanted to help his two fearful friends and invited them to watch the stars that night. Cindy and Christabelle figured there were just too many scary things that could happen at night, however, so they stayed home. Then something scary happened.

Cindy and Cristabelle's Big Scare takes a look at the fear, worries and general anxiety kids often experience in a compelling fable about two fearful goats who learn deep breathing and the art of relaxation from a very laid back and wise pig named Wilbert. As I read the story, I found myself deep breathing as well and marveled at how Lucy Sloan introduces deep breathing and relaxation techniques to children. The author also includes the Lil’ Steps Wellness Farm Activity Booklet, which was co-authored by Joanne Lariviere. This booklet is filled with useful information for parents and caregivers with children in their care whose lives are impacted by worry and fear. The booklet coaches adults on how to approach these issues as well as suggesting useful activities to share with kids that teach them how to handle stress and fear in productive ways. The story and booklet are well-presented and first-rate, and the illustrations are brilliant, especially those pictures of Cindy, Christabelle, and Wilbert. Cindy and Cristabelle's Big Scare: Book One of Lil' Steps Series is most highly recommended.

Marta Tandori

Childhood anxiety disorder is addressed in a kid-friendly way in Cindy and Cristabelle’s Big Scare, a delightful picture book for children written by Lucy Sloan. Lil’ Steps Farm is a happy place – except that whenever goats Cindy and Cristabelle become scared or worried, they faint. In their minds, lots can go wrong on a farm which leads to plenty of things to worry about like having too much sun, which will give them sunburn and make them sick, or having too much rain, which will result in the grass not growing and them not having food to eat. Wilbert the pig, on the other hand, is happy all the time, wallowing in the cool mud and enjoying the sunshine and gentle breeze. He tries to get the two goats to relax and enjoy themselves as much as he does but to no avail – until one night when the unthinkable happens…

Childhood anxiety can be moderate or acute and have a profound impact on children. Sloan’s book introduces this difficult topic to young children through two relatable goats, Cindy and Cristabelle, who spend most of their waking hours worrying about anything and everything, with their worries becoming magnified at night when they should be sleeping. There’s a nice dichotomy between the goats’ anxiety and Wilbert the pig’s contented state which should be easily recognizable to young readers. The narrative is simple, yet engaging, and the illustrations are colorful and imaginative. What was presented particularly well was the fact that there is no “overnight” cure for anxiety. It’s something that must be worked on in order to see results.

However, Cindy and Cristabelle’s story is only one part of the formula for addressing childhood anxiety disorder. The second part comes in the form of an activity book, co-authored by Joanne Lariviere and Lucy Sloan, which is geared to adults, teaching them about anxiety and how to manage it with their child. Chapters are devoted to things like identifying worry and fear in the body, how to stop the worry from growing and the Joy Jar, ideas, and lessons that help parents (and their children) recognize and address the problem. This is intended to provide an emotional, psychological and physical connection between parent and child. As Book One of the Lil’ Steps series, Cindy and Cristabelle’s Big Scare is off to a fine start that is sure to help children and parents alike in dealing with this difficult childhood disorder.

Jessica Barbosa

Cindy and Cristabelle’s Big Scare by Lucy Sloan is about two jittery and jumpy goats named Cindy and Cristabelle, and their positive and sympathetic friend, Wilbert the pig. It was a perfect day to relax at the Lil’ Steps farm. Wilbert the pig and the rest of the animals were enjoying the warm sun, except two little goats who were preoccupied with their thoughts. For Cindy and Cristabelle, being at ease was completely impossible! Troublesome thoughts kept coming to them, one after another, until they finally fainted from anxiety. Wilbert the pig noticed how troubled the goats were, so he decided to help them see the world from a different perspective, hoping it would make a difference. Join Wilbert in his efforts to free his nervous friends from the trappings of their own thoughts and learn valuable lessons along the way!

Cindy and Cristabelle's Big Scare is a beautiful, short piece of work that emphasizes the importance of self-regulation. Anxiety is a common thing among people, so I fully understand how Cindy and Cristabelle felt throughout the tale. There are so many frightening things in this world that sometimes I can’t help but be as worried as these two goats, even when there doesn’t isn’t anything to be worried about in the first place. However, I believe feeling this way keeps us heedful of the dangers that lurk around us. But while being cautious is important, we shouldn’t let fear rule our lives and stop us from having the best day possible. I admired Wilbert the pig for showing concern for his troubled friends and even reaching out to help them. His good intentions helped Cindy and Cristabelle realize that if they focus on the good things in life, more positive things will happen. The activities after the story were also quite helpful and interesting. I learned a lot about handling my own worries because of this book.

K.C. Finn

Cindy and Cristabelle’s Big Scare is a work of educational fiction aimed at children suffering from anxiety problems and their parents. It was written by author Lucy Sloan, with contributions to the accompanying activity booklet made by Joanne Lariviere, the RSW and the MACP. As the first book in the Lil’ Steps Series, the main feature is the storybook, in which we meet the titular characters, who are a pair of young fainting goats. The little goats are full of worries that they can’t seem to get away from, but when they meet Wilbert the Pig, he starts to teach them how to manage those worries and feel happy again.

Childhood anxiety is an ever-increasing problem in our modern world, with many adults left in the dark as to how to help their children cope. The big bold illustrations and messages of positivity in author Lucy Sloan’s work are a great start on the road to managing emotions, especially through the highly endearing format of Lil’ Steps Farm and its cast of lovely animals. The story itself has a solid plot and simple language that makes its messages easy to understand and remember. This blends very well into the second feature, which is a really handy workbook that helps adults and their children get organized about their feelings and how to tackle them. Overall, Cindy and Cristabelle’s Big Scare is a delightful work that is sure to inject some positivity into what can be a very arduous time in a young child’s life.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Fear is a very real entity. It can manifest itself in a person, or an animal, and multiply its intensity way out of proportion. Wilbert the Pig doesn’t feel fear. He’s not afraid of anything. He’s too busy enjoying the sun and the cool, refreshing mud. But his barnyard friends, Cindy and Cristabelle, two goats, are constantly afraid of something. And every time something frightens them, it makes them think of something else that scares them even more. And the fear becomes so intense, it’s overwhelming. They can’t sleep. They can’t eat. They can’t have fun with their barnyard friends. In fact, they’re physically frozen, paralyzed by their fear.

This kind of fear can and does affect all living creatures. Children, in particular, have lots of fears and their imaginations often run rampant with what-if scenarios that make their fears intensify so much that it takes over their lives. But here’s a book to help both the children living with these crippling fears and the parents, caregivers, and teachers who are helping them deal with fear. Lucy Sloan’s picture book and self-help guide to fear management, Cindy and Cristabelle’s Big Scare: Book One of Lil’ Steps Series, begins with this charming barnyard story of two goats and one pig.

The story is told in simple language with an appealing sense of both compassion and, sometimes, a dash of humor. The font varies to emphasize certain points, like when the fear gets bigger and bigger, so does the font size. The illustrations are accompanied by snippets, captions, and some dialogue to help move the story along. The second half of the book is a detailed guide with suggestions and step-by-step activities to help children (and adults, too) deal with their fear issues. This is a wonderful resource and a charming picture book story.