Together Things by Michelle Vasiliu
Her mother says you can't see her Daddy's hurt because it is in his head.
The Ministry of Health states that one in six New Zealand adults have been diagnosed with a common mental disorder at some time in their lives. Often young children are left in the dark when their parent or caregiver suddenly can't play like they used to.
Together Things will resonate with the thousands of youngsters who know what it is like to live with a parent experiencing mental illness. It is a simple picture book that will help children understand the struggles the adults in their lives may be going through.
Author Michelle Vasiliu is a teacher and she ensure the book is sensitive and age appropriate.
Vasiliu makes it clear that it is okay for little people to feel any emotion - including grief and anger - about their parent's illness, but that while they are getting better, some things may have to change.
Compassion and empathy are the key message of the book and Vasiliu conveys that in a simple, understated, but incredibly powerful way.
The adult may not be able to partake in the imaginative play they know and love, but that reading stories and drawing pictures can take that place instead.
Bright and bold illustrations by Gwynneth Jones (Don't Think About Purple Elephants, Sugar & Spice collection) add to the message. She uses simple line and colour to create movement, imagination and emotion. Together with Vasiliu's simple text, the book could spark rich conversations and deep questioning. I can see it being a much needed resource for those working with younger children.
Together Things is a fantastic book for preschoolers or younger school-aged children to help them understand the importance of mental health.
Reviewer: Rebekah Lyell
EK Books, RRP $24.99