Here are two books intended to support the mental well-being of youngsters.
The Silent Selkie
Juliette Ttofa, illustrated by Paul Greenhouse
“We have to remember in order to heal,” So says one of Elif Shafak’s characters in her brilliant novel The Island of Missing Trees and so it is in this picture book.
Using the metaphor of a hidden wound this perceptive story, written by a specialist educational psychologist and child therapist and engagingly illustrated by Paul Greenhouse, is ultimately one of reassurance. Aiming to offer a safe space in which children affected by trauma can, with the help of an understanding adult, begin their crucial healing journey, it is intended to be used along with an accompanying guidebook.
The picture book shows the journey towards healing taken by a deeply traumatised young selkie that is so troubled that she’s lost the ability to speak. With her wound buried deep within she expresses her feelings through the weather
and this leads to her being questioned and then isolated in a distant cave by the seal folk who fail to understand her plight.
There she remains engulfed in a fog, growing progressively wilder until one night as dreams intrude upon her sleep, her hair becomes entangled in the nets of a fishing boat. She’s dragged from her confinement and after unsuccessful attempts by the seal folk to rouse her, the trawler pulls her to a distant unknown land.
On waking she finds herself on a sandy shore, still entangled in the net but showing some bare skin on her tail. In the full sun, it feels as though her golden scales are aflame. Then holding a shiny stone she glimpses a splinter protruding from her tail. The pain causes her to cry out but attempts to get help from self-serving creatures that stop, lead to more pain and the loss of some of her golden scales. The intensity of the burning increases and the Selkie begins picking off her own scales and that night her slumbering body remembers the long forgotten story of how as a pup, the thorn entered her skin inflicting a wound. Her moans echo through the deep sea. Next morning she sees a humpback whale and the two sing together.
Thus begins the release from her entrapment: “It is time for you to be who you really are,” the empathetic whale tells her, assuring the `Selkie’ that she won’t be alone on her healing journey.
Daisy Fitzpatrick and her Worries
Daisy Fitzpatrick is beset by anxieties, and her mind is full of worries, the kind that could trouble any of us from time to time. I certainly go along with her on the fear of heights, though not really most of her other worries – buzzing bees (and other minibeasts), the dark, the sea, vegetables, storms, dying ( I guess most of us aren’t eager to contemplate the end of life), crossing the road, being alone, her parents’ separation. She considers a dozen worries in all and by the end of each poem, has found the means to discover a new perspective on each troubling issue.
Sensitively written by an author who shares many of these fears with Daisy; after the rhymes she provides helpful notes and suggestions including mindfulness and finding someone else with whom you can talk over particular anxious feelings – as well as links by which readers can get additional information. There are occasional recipes that include a vegetable ingredient too.
An unusual book to help children face and eradicate childhood worries.