It was quite challenging to find picturebooks about mental illness for our current theme, Mentally Yours. Fortunately, through our library consortium, I was able to get copies of fiction picturebooks that talk about depression. I hope you find these books useful. If you know of any other picturebooks about depression, please let me know!
Written and illustrated by: Hannah Cumming
Published by: Child’s Play International (2010)
The Cloud follows the simple story of a little girl who sits by herself and does nothing in Art Class. There is also a dark cloud above her head. The other kids do not talk to her.
One other girl is interested in making friends. She comes up with ways to connect but nothing seems to work. The other girl suggests that they make artwork together. She draws half of a house on the left side of the paper, then hands it to the girl with the cloud above her head. The latter takes the offer but does not draw the other half of the house. Instead, there were scribbles all over the place — scribbles that look like the girl’s dark cloud. Will friendship ever be formed?
Hannah Cumming’s picturebook debut is shelved under the bibliotherapy section of Lorain Public Library where I obtained my copy of the book. The Cloud is not about depression per se, but it does involve emotions. It helps children recognize that people have dark cloud days and those are only temporary. School counselors have shared this book with students. It’s a simple yet heartfelt story about the magic of friendship and imagination.
The Princess and the Fog
Written and illustrated by: Lloyd Jones
Published by: Jessica Kingsley Publishers (2015)
Award received: Bronze Medal Winner, Early Reader category (Indiefab Book Awards, 2015)
I was immediately drawn to this book because of its play on words. While not exactly a fractured fairy tale, The Princess and the Fog is certainly a tale like no other. The story follows a princess who was happy. She had everything a girl could ever want, she loved her people, and she is loved by all. Then, the fog came.
Author-illustrator Lloyd Jones created The Princess and the Fog specifically for children with depression. This book aims to help young readers live with their depression. It also helps the people around them to understand what it is like being affected by depression. The book includes a short guide for parents and caregivers regarding depression in young children. The guide was prepared by two pediatric clinical psychologists.
The Color Thief
Written by: Andrew Fusek and Polly Peters
Illustrated by: Karin Littlewood
Published by: Albert Whitman and Company (2014)
Unlike The Princess and the Fog, The Color Thief is not about depression in children. Rather, this book tells the story of how a father suffers from depression and the effect it has on his family. It was told in the perspective of his son.
Depression is neither a dark cloud or a fog in this book. Instead, depression is a color thief that turns everything gray and pulls people into a somber world. A parent’s story of depression is also a family’s story of depression. The Color Thief allows us to see that side of the story in which a family member also suffers because another member is going through depression.