Because it was a different time, no one recognized depression in me and I spent many years thinking this was the way life was supposed to be. I finally came out of it when I started high school, but then the rebellious side of me took over and that was that. Thank heaven the man I married was mature enough to snap me out of it. (Thank you Dennis.) I found my path and I've never looked back.
However, it is excruciatingly difficult for me to see children suffer. No child should ever feel the way I did. I wrote Journeys, The Adventure of Leaf, in 1992 to explain to my children and grandchildren the concept of death in a way that would fill them with hope instead of despair. Unfortunately, the pictures don't fit the book so I don't market it much. If you want to see it you can find it here.
I am always on the outlook for children's books that address the real issues affecting kids. I came across Astro is Down in the Dumps off a Twitter group I belong to. The word 'depression' leaped out at me and I wanted a closer look at a book that might help a child in need.
All that said, no adult should expect a book to cure a child of situational and/or physical depression. And obviously, you cannot expect a parent who is overwhelmed with their own issues to recognize depression and/or anxiety in a child. Already our social service people are overwhelmed and mental abuse or neglect is a hard one to prove.
What CAN be done, is to make books like Astro is Down in the Dumps available at the library so children in need can find them. I have used books all my life to help me gain distance from my troubles. I am not saying that reading Astro would have cured me. What I AM saying is that if I had found Astro is Down in the Dumps it would have enlightened me about a situation I did not understand.
Sometimes, just labeling your emotions is enough to light the dark.
This fun and entertaining book, Astro is Down in the Dumps, was created to give children the skills they need to build resilience and cope with depression and anxiety. The version was created with Kindle Kids Books. When you tap on the images or the text special pop-up boxes appear.
Astro is feeling so sad and blue he can’t get out of bed. Then there’s a knock at the door… who could that be?
In each section, one of Astro’s friends drops by and tells him what they do to cheer up when they are feeling sad. Alfie paints, Stella talks to someone, Dotty listens to music and Digger eats fresh, healthy food.
There are worksheets at the back of the book for further ideas and ways of extending the skills presented in this book. As well, there are telephone numbers for direct access to helplines.
Written in verse and with stunning full-color illustrations, this book is designed so that it can be shared in the classroom and at home.
All monies raised from the sale of this book go to sending a free copy to each school and library.
Why did you write a children's book about depression?
Sadly, a friend’s niece took her life after a long bout with depression. The young teenager had read my books from the Astro’s Adventures series over and over again. She found great comfort in them. It was nice that I was able to provide comfort but the loss of such a young life was a terrible trauma and the feelings of powerlessness stayed with me for a long time. My partner works in the area of mental ill-health and encouraged me to do something for children. Not to over simplify the problem, I did some research and discovered that mental health experts spoke a lot about building resilience in young children before they reach adolescence. So, I wrote Astro is Down in the Dumps to help children identify skills they would need and practice when they experience negative events.
Did you or someone else do the artwork?
I did all the artwork and the formatting of the book. I really enjoy the whole process. I’ve been an artist all my life but illustrating is another skill I had to learn. There’s a lot more to it than just drawing a picture. I wanted the images in this book to be especially engaging and to have such an impact the children wouldn’t forget Astro and the advice the book offers.
It's a beautiful book about a sensitive subject. Have you had any push back? Or are people responsive?
Some people gave mixed reviews but I’m not sure they completely explained why. You’re right, it is a sensitive subject and some people may not be prepared to deal with it and they find other ways to express their feelings. While I certainly didn’t set out to upset anyone I think it is such an important issue that it needs addressing. The most favorable responses so far have been from mental health experts. You can see their reviews on Amazon.com. While I’m not an expert on mental health I am a skilled author and illustrator and, more importantly, an educator so I hope that this book will have a significant impact on the audience it’s intended for.
How do you market your book? Do you do children's workshops?
Last year our granddaughter died and the effects are still rippling through our lives.
My goal is to send a free copy of Astro is Down in the Dumps to schools and libraries so that it can reach as many children as possible. Proceeds from the sale of the book and other projects will help me achieve this goal.
I already do workshops for my other books so it won’t be too hard to create a fun and engaging program around this book.
A friend of mine who is an experienced teacher and I have created a teachers and parents’ resource book to accompany Astro is Down in the Dumps. It’s has over 50 lessons that can be incorporated into an existing school program or can be used to create a new one about building resilience in children. My favorite one is Resilience Warriors. It is so much fun I wish I was young enough to do it myself!
Tell us about yourself.
My favorite drink is coffee in the mornings and water with lemon juice in the afternoons. I love comedy shows and documentaries about people and nature. Everyone who knows me thinks I spend far too much time with my dogs but the dogs don’t complain. I have recently adopted a kitten and, as naughty and cheeky as she is, she has brought much joy into our home. I live in a country property in Australia. Our neighbors are lots of large kangaroos and some scary snakes!
Even though Astro is Down in the Dumps has only been published for a month we have already raised enough money to begin sending out the first 20 books.
Susan is passionate about children's literature and wants to inspire children to be better people and encourage them to follow their dreams. She runs workshops for children teaching them how to form the wonders of their imaginations into stories.
To this day Susan's children still treasure tattered copies of their favorite books that brought them joy and understanding. Books tucked away on bookshelves that were funny or sad but most importantly, they contained stories that taught them something special about life. Susan wants to share this love with her readers.
Each book encourages and promotes the wonderful art of story-telling with organic illustrations that reach to the very essence of the reader portraying similar character traits that their pets share.
Susan lives with her family and dogs, in particular, Rocky the Border collie and Stella, the blind dog. She is a canine behaviourist, as well, and spends her time writing and illustrating; training and counselling dogs and being bossed around by the family cat, Speed Bump Charlie.
Astro is Down in the Dumps - http://www.gofundme.com/kyuags
Susan's Blog - www.susandayauthor.com
Astro's Adventures - www.astrosadventures.net
Amazon Author Page - http://www.amazon.com/Susan-Day/e/B009SS8IJK/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/Astrosadventures
Thank you, Susan for letting me host Astro is Down in the Dumps. I wish you the best in any future endeavors to forward the cause of healthy children.