Jen Faulkner is also known for her wonderful blog, InstinctiveMum and embarked on this wonderful journey in order to raise awareness of and support families coping with Post-Natal Depression.
Jen has rightly made no secret of her own battle with the illness and has openly discussed with other parents the impact this had on their family. It was then, that Jen wrote the poem which would eventually become the framework of this wonderful story, aimed at helping children understand how their mother is affected by PND.
Illustrated by Helen Braid, the book takes the readers (both child and parent) through both the symptoms and emotional troubles associated with PND, addressing unanswered questions, easing anxieties and offering support to both readers in the intricate suggestion of comforting gestures toward one another.
The opening page is interestingly illustrated as it places the child in the darkness of PND, raising awareness of how the illness not only affects a mother, but of how it’s influence cascades.
Jen’s poem, paired with the wonderful illustrations from Helen, go on to personify PND as a monster which needs to be defeated. Nicely, the boy simply sets out to ‘ask for his mum back’, which only adds to the emotional impact of the story, drawing out the feelings of both readers and thus encouraging each to open up.
As the story progresses, each monster is responsible for taking away parts of his mum that made her joyful, happy and fun and the ‘brave boy’ seeks to retrieve them to make her herself again. It’s an amazingly therapeutic effect, drawing open a mother’s mind to see PND from the perspective of those around her – from personal experience, this can be a huge motivational tool to encourage change as well as the active pursuit of help.
By the end, the final monster offers the boy advice on how to help his mum…at no point is a quick-fix-cure offered, making the book realistic and achievable in its approach. It’s a wonderful portrayal of the emotional implications and anxieties of PND paired with the support and advice of a clearly experienced mum, which seeps through the narrative in the advice offered by the monsters.
The kindness of the monsters and their willingness to help reminds both mum and child of the temporary and conquerable nature of Post-Natal Depression, empowering families to work together to achieve positive outcomes.
The book is a wonderful read layered perfectly with issues associated with PND through a rhyming narrative. Accompanied with well-designed illustrations of unbelievable emotional depth, I’d imagine that Jen will raise much awareness of the illness as well as encouraging and supporting families affected by PND.