03 April 2009

Sad Book

By Michael Rosen

Walker Books. Picture book. Paperback rrp $16.95

Guest Reviewer Jo Burnell

Today’s Picture Books are evolving. Many are designed specifically for adolescents and adults. Complex and abstract ideas come to life through graphics in a way that the written word alone can’t achieve. Some books are no longer appropriate for young children. The themes are too dark, the visuals border on frightening.

Michael Rosen has cleverly found a niche somewhere between the Graphic Novel for older readers and the traditional younger children’s Picture Book. By straddling the edges of both, he creates a deeply moving account of grief and depression.

The first page cuts straight to a very troubling truth. Many people don’t show how they really feel for fear they will be rejected. Quentin Blake’s double page spreads alternate between themes of grey and bright color, with some pages a mixture of both. Colour denotes hope and an ability to overcome the ‘sad’. Grey takes us deeper into aspects of grief and depression.

I was uncertain as I closed Sad Book. It affected me deeply. Would I share this story with a child? Its treasure lies in the clear and simple explanation of grief and depression. The author gives a reason for his grief. Many are unable to explain. This book provides a starting point for discussing how ‘sad’ feels. Why are Mummy or Daddy so different? How do they feel? What happened to make them sad?

This book shines because of the practical strategies offered to overcome being ‘sad’. Its brilliance lies in the tinge of grey that remains. Just as the more drab colours linger, so does the danger of relapse into depression for many. There are no quick or permanent cures. Someone who has struggled in the darkness knows that constant effort is required. Being mentally positive and filling the day with enjoyable activities are necessary skills for a positive life.

With the high incidence of depression in the modern world, as well as the natural place of grief and loss in most people’s lives, this book will be a family treasure. A beginning point for both discussions and practical solutions.


No comments:

Post a Comment