Please note: the author of this book kindly sent me a copy of this book free of charge and while I agreed to review her book, I was not paid to do so and have no affiliation with her work, beyond a love and support for people raising awareness of mental illness.
Something a little bit different in today’s book review, as I’m reviewing a children’s book for the first time!
Despite fully supporting the need for kids to learn properly about mental illness from a young age, I was not that there were authors out there looking to teach kids around my niece’s age (3) about mental illness and last week I came across her books on Twitter when she was asking for possible reviewers and looking at previews of her work on Amazon, I contacted her about reviewing one of her books which she has graciously sent me.
She currently has 3 books in the series: Mindful Millie, Sad Simon and the book I’m reviewing, Anxious Arthur. The first two have been reviewed brilliantly by the blogger OneMoreLightLB here.
This book is a very simple story and in many ways a typical kids book. We meet Arthur, who is a little mouse and lives in a purple house with his children Susie and Wilson. The story rhymes and flows beautifully when reading it, that I can imagine it would be a joy to read to kids. Where a difference lies though between this and a ‘typical’ kids book is in the content.
Arthur one day has a fright, and try with all his might to overcome it, he can’t. It’s here where the author brilliantly introduces Anxiety and talks about it in a manner that’s appropriate for kids of a small age.
Susie is very cautious unlike Wilson who is more outgoing and when Arthur has his fright, he finds himself withdrawing to the house and not being able to go outside or sleep for fear. This starts to impact on Susie the most as she becomes even more timid copying her fathers behaviours.
Fantastically, the author nails the symptoms and nature of anxiety here, which I can vouch for leaving me feeling drained, afraid of going outside and afraid of anything possibly going wrong.
To overcome this and tell it to kids is no mean feat and I admire the author immensely for not ducking the reality of anxiety and what’s best when changing your thought patterns.
This is a brilliant message to teach kids, simple but also on point for coping with anxiety. Living in the present, although not an easy concept to often actually do, is essential. Having been through CBT I know only too well how much of anxiety is about either hating ourselves for past mistakes or mind reading the future and thinking everything will be terrible.
“Don’t worry about the future or the past, just live in the moment and make it last”.
What a beautiful and eloquent way to put overcoming anxiety to children and how important it is to let go of past mistakes and trying to read the future, and instead focus on living in the moment and enjoying life.
This is a viewpoint I’m well on board for and looking at the authors previous books, I can see how well she approaches such tough topics for little children and does not patronise kids. Here’s to her continuing the great work, as the more messages like this spread, the better the future will be for mental illness and our understanding and support for it.