2020 has been a difficult year for so many of us, for so many reasons. Picture books can be a fantastic way to help children normalise and process the emotions they feel. Today, I am showcasing two picture books that tackle different situations children may face. Arthur Wants a Balloon is about a child’s experience of living with a parent who is suffering from depression. Maia and the Very Tall Wall is about a child’s own journey of feeling trapped and learning to break down barriers.
Arthur Wants a Balloon by Elizabeth Gilbert Bedia & Erika Meza
Under a cloudy, grey sky, Arthur’s papa rushes him through the park, without giving the woman selling balloons a second glance. There is not space in Papa’s world for bright balloons.
The metaphor of dark clouds is used to express Papa’s depression. I found Elizabeth’s words on this page very powerful: The clouds let out a gloomy sigh. So did Papa. And so did Arthur.
The reasons for Papa’s depression are hinted at, as we realise the pair are walking to the hospital to see Arthur’s mama. As the story continues we see how Papa’s depression impacts Arthur, as he tries to understand it.
When a balloon magically appears at their doorstep, Arthur is finally able to connect with his Papa. Ultimately, though, this is a story of hope. Hope that even in the gloomiest of circumstances, we can find some happiness.
This book could be very helpful to share with a child who is living with a parent experiencing depression. The contrast Erika has created with the grey scene and colourful balloons translates well for children. And the bond between Arthur and his Papa shines through.
Published by Trigger Publishing, 22 October 2020
Maia and the Very Tall Wall by Brian Wray & Shiloh Penfield
Maia is a curious girl, but as she grows, so does the wall that surrounds her home. The higher the wall becomes, the shyer Maia becomes, until she hardly speaks.
Maia has to summon all her inner strength to find the confidence to use her voice again. When she finally does speak up, someone calls back to her, from the other side of the wall.
The magical element of this story grows as Maia climbs the wall and meets a friend. Together they explore the world, as the barrier that was once there, is now a stepping stone to adventure.
This thoughtful book about building your confidence, is Brian and Shiloh’s third picture book together on emotional wellbeing. Max’s Box is about bottling up negative emotions and Unraveling Rose is a story about obsessive compulsive disorder.
Published by Schiffer Publishing, 4 October 2020
I am very grateful to the publishers for providing me with a complimentary copies of these books. This voluntary feature contains my honest opinion.