Book Title & Alexandra's Review

Better with Butter by Victoria Piontek

5th Grade and Up


Twelve-year-old Marvel is afraid of absolutely everything – amusement park rides, food poisoning, earthquakes, and that big island of plastic floating through the ocean. She also obsesses about smaller worries like making friends, getting called on by the teacher, and walking home alone.
Her parents and the school therapist call her worries an anxiety disorder, but Marvel calls them armor. If something can happen, it will. She needs to be prepared.
But when Marvel stumbles on a group of older kids teasing a baby goat that has mysteriously shown up on the soccer field, she momentarily forgets to be afraid and rescues the frightened animal.
Only Butter isn’t any old goat. She’s a fainting goat. When Butter feels panic, she freezes up and falls over. Marvel knows exactly how Butter feels and precisely what Butter needs – her.

Soon, Butter and Marvel are going everywhere together, and Butter thrives under Marvel’s support. Butter also helps Marvel. Everything is easier for her with Butter by her side. But just when Marvel starts to imagine a life in which she can manage her anxiety, instead of letting it control her, Butter’s owner shows up to claim her. Will Marvel find a way to keep her friend? Or will she revert back to the anxious, lonely person she used to be?


As someone who spent twelve years of school in a constant state of anxiety, I can confirm that Marvel’s representation of an anxious mind is 100% authentic. It’s so accurate, in fact, that I felt like I was back in elementary school, which is why I had to continually step away from the book or risk going down an anxious spiral. But it made me realize how far I’ve come since then and how thankful I am to no longer be in a school environment. I still get anxious when I’m surrounded by too many people, but I’m doing much better now that I’m no longer under the pressure of being graded.


Marvel and Butter’s friendship will pull on your heartstrings. After watching some YouTube videos about fainting goats, I understand why Marvel connected with Butter so fast. Fainting goats are cute. The way their legs stiffen up and fall over is both sad and adorable. But I agree with Marvel that it’s cruel to make them faint for your own sick amusement.

Here are a few fun YouTube videos I found on fainting goats:

Fainting Goats/National Geographic:

Goat Falls Off Swing/National Geographic:


In my opinion, a fainting goat isn’t the most unusual Emotional Support Animal. There are pigs, ducks, and miniature horses. People have even tried to pass off peacocks, geese, and even a kangaroo as an Emotional Support Animals. I am not kidding. Look it up if you don’t believe me.

Here’s a YouTube video of my favorite outrageous Emotional Support Animal:


I related so much to what Marvel thinks and feels. That feeling of being a disappointment to your parents, being around optimistic people who believe in you more than you do in yourself. How your mind doesn’t let you forget every embarrassing thing you have ever done. Being on constant alert for anything that might go wrong. How sometimes, you aren’t looking for a solution; you just want to be heard. Anxiety isn’t something that can be ‘cured’ or ‘fixed.’ It’s an everyday battle for some people. But when you find the right support and coping mechanisms that work for you, it becomes easier to manage.


I love this story so much! Anyone with high anxiety will see themselves in this story, while others will hopefully gain some sympathy towards people with anxiety.

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