Australian artist/illustrator Susan Day has turned out another in her colorful Astro series. (ISBN 10 – 1507782748; ISBN 13 = 978-1507782743 from www.grannyshillpublishing.com) [Astro, for those who know the series, is a dog.]
This rhyming Astro book is designed to help young children cope with depression. It is Day’s hope to be able to place a copy of her book in every school in that country, an admirable goal.
As Susan Day and fellow-educator Jenny Graham explain, this is a teaching resource book, meant to assist in helping create kids who are resilient. The authors recommend sending a note home from school to parents to notify them if a unit is going to be taught on depression, anxiety or suicide, to have a box set up that would allow troubled youth to post anonymous letters, and to have posters on display that advise of places where students can turn for help. The authors even give a “hot line” number (which, in the United States, is 1-800-273-8255 for the USA Lifeline.)
The book features Day’s delightful colorful illustrations of dogs who stop by to advise Astro about how to cope with his depression. With a title like Astro is Down in the Dumps, the author, through characters like Digger, Alfie, Stella, Indy, Rocky, and Dotty the Dal suggest, in order, food, painting, exercise, writing, drawing and, of course, sharing one’s depression/ emotions with others.
And the book rhymes, too!
The quote “Anyone can create art. All you do is make a start” immediately made me think of George W. Bush’s post-presidential foray into the art world. I don’t know why, but that depressed me. I generally am depressed thinking about anything George W. Bush ever did, and his art work was particularly amateur-ish (Anybody else remember his portrait of Vladimir Putin? Bueller? Bueller?)
So I decided I would follow Rocky’s advice: “I grab my journal and write, About being so uptight. I don’t stop until I’m feeling great, Even if it’s getting late.”(For me, if I’m writing, it’s always late).
That advice cheered me up a lot about “W’s” artwork (although not the rest of his legacy) and I thought Stella’s advice (“I call my friend from far away, Not once, but nearly every day. And she listens while I explain , About the things that cause me pain.”) was very good, as is this book.
Last, but certainly not least, was this thought: “To be kind is more important than to be right; many times what people need is not a brilliant mind that speaks, but a special heart that listens.”