The Whatifs

Written & Illustrated by: 

Emily Kilgore & Zoe Persico

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered:

  • Mental Health
  • Social Emotional Learning
  • Anxiety
  • Own Voices



I have OCD and GAD (generalized anxiety disorder). I was officially diagnosed in college but these two facets of my personality have been around for as long as I can remember. Getting this diagnosis was a relief. It helped me understand why my brain works the way it does, and helps the mental health professionals I work with give me strategies to combat my Anxiety Brain (who is really quite rude, tbh). These two acronyms do not define my entire personality, but they do play a part in helping me understand my reactions and my childhood.

In this story, Cora is plagued by Whatifs constantly. Her Whatifs aren’t positive, they make her nervous and scared that bad things will happen. As Cora’s piano recital date gets closer, the Whatifs provide Cora with lots of worries about what could go wrong while she’s onstage. On the night of the performance, Cora meets a girl named Stella who asks Cora if maybe some of her Whatifs could be positive instead of negative.

This story normalizes talking about anxiety with kids, as does the author’s note in the back where Emily Kilgore talks about her own childhood anxiety. Mental health is just as important and physical health, and ensuring that kids don’t feel alone in their struggles by talking about it. Personally, I thought everyone felt like this and they were just better at handling it than I was, and that I was weak. I didn’t know how to talk about it because I didn’t know that it was something to talk about. I’m so glad this story is around to help reflect the experiences of others, so we can name those pesky Whatifs that float around all of us.

This book was a submission for the #bookstagang_bestof2020 list and sent by little bee books. However, all opinions are my own!

Emily Kilgore

From Emily’s website: “I have been surrounded by the magic of books all my life. I am an elementary teacher and earned my master’s degree in Education: Curriculum & Instruction, Emphasis in Children’s Literature through Penn State University. I strive to instill a love of reading in all children.

I currently live in Minneapolis, Minnesota with my husband and kitty. When not writing, I enjoy traveling, running, and doodling.”

Zoe Persico

Zoe Persico is an illustrator with a love for the wild, the wondrous, and the whimsical. When she’s not working she enjoys hiking, playing board games, imagining in Dungeons & Dragons, hunting for good finds at the thrift store, and petting her dog. She currently resides in sunny Florida with her significant other and their dog named Zombie.