29 October 2012

Coming Home

by Sharon McGuinness
Wombat Books. Picture Book. Australian. Hardcover RRP $24.95
Reviewed by Sandy Fussell

Why doesn’t Dad want to play with me anymore?” Gemma asks her mother.
Did I do something wrong?
Gemma’s father is sad. He sits in the garden he once loved and stares at the growing neglect. He doesn’t care about it anymore. He doesn’t seem to care about Gemma either. Sometimes he still  laughs with his friends but when they are gone, he sits and stares again.

Gemma’s mother explains dad is suffering from depression. It’s an illness you can’t really see like a broken leg, but it’s there just the same. She encourages Gemma to keep talking to him, dancing for him and playing the recorder. And one day he is there to pick her up from school, a smile on his face.
What I really like about this book is it doesn’t attempt to analyse depression, the reasons why or its treatment. It shows how Gemma deals with her father’s illness – her struggle to understand and her ongoing determination to be part of his life no matter what – the support she provides by never giving up.
One in five people suffer from depression and many of these are parents. Coming Home explores how this affects a young child. Gemma feels helpless but she keeps reaching out, hoping things will change.
From the front end paper where the garden is shrivelled and dried to the back paper filled with coloured blooms, this book is a journey of hope. It will help young children understand depression, particularly in a parent, and provide a discussion starter for older readers.

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