Steven lives in a world shaped by his anxieties. His own fears are compounded as he agonizes over his baby brother born with a serious medical disorder. He worries about his parents who are struggling to cope with their son’s condition. He is troubled by the growing colony of wasps who have taken up residence the eaves of the family’s home. His anxiety escalates when a mysterious wasp queen enters his dreams and offers to “fix” his infant brother.
Jon Klassen’s atmospheric illustrations heighten the story’s escalating terror.
A mesmerizing exploration of a young boy’s fear.
1. Wishes can distort your thinking.
"The first time I saw them, I thought they were Angels."
2. Fear can be paralyzing.
"Get a grip. There were a lot of things I was supposed to get a grip on. I just wasn't much good at it."
3. When the pressure is too much, retreat.
"I would be completely safe and untouchable in my little nest."
4. Decide what is most important.
"This is a human being. The most glorious and complicated creature on the planet."
5. Distinguish between real and imaginary.
"The important thing to remember is it's just a dream. They can feel like very powerful experiences, but they aren't true experiences and can have no real power over you."
6. Expect deficiencies in yourself and others.
"All I'm saying is, sooner or later we're all busted-up in some way."
7. Taking a stand is difficult.
"It's not even a choice! A choice requires a bit of thought, a bit of a tussle."
8. You cannot meet everyone's expectations.
"People lie and say they don't want perfect. But really they do."
9. Accept uncertainty.
"Maybe like me, he was thinking we’d never know what was going to happen next week or month or year, but no one really did anyway."