Friday 13 January 2017

ReadItDaddy's Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 13th January 2017 - "Night Shift" by Debi Gliori (Hot Key Books)

Our Picture Book of the Week this week deals with a hugely sensitive subject in an amazing visual way. Debi Gliori's "Night Shift"
Can books be brave? Can you describe a book as being a brave attempt to explain and quantify something that, for most people, will directly or indirectly have an effect on their lives at one point or another?

Depression isn't a new subject for children's books but there is always room for a book that can accurately depict what it actually feels like to be in the dark grip of this illness. Debi Gliori's sleeve notes make it plain that she has struggled with depression throughout her life, and it's extremely clear that this is a subject that she can talk about with authority and the sensitivity required when broaching the subject with children.

In "Night Shift", depression is depicted as a dark insidious dragon - always there, always hovering on the periphery ready to strike. The girl character in the book speaks in a monologue, trying - struggling even - to describe what she is feeling, why she is acting the way she is - and what can be done about it.

The book's amazing monochrome illustrations offer a dark metaphor for what it feels like in the grip of depression
It's a hugely affecting book. I suffered from depression over 20 years ago, stuck in a situation that I couldn't see an end to - mostly because of work and domestic issues. Debi gets across almost perfectly what it feels like trying to COMMUNICATE with others when you're depressed and how hard it is to explain why things other people take for granted suddenly feel like the toughest tasks on the planet.

Charlotte read the book with me, and she remembered Shaun Tan's "The Red Tree" which took a very similar line, though perhaps even more metaphorical thanks to Tan's more surreal approach.

Drawing a map to try and help explain something you can't vocalise. Fantastic idea!
With the rise and rise of childhood depression as more and more pressure is heaped on children's necks at home and at school, books like this are massively important and can help kids start to make the journey themselves to try and describe their feelings and anxieties.

Without a doubt one of the most important children's books releases of recent times. Keep a very close eye on this one, it deserves to be read, discussed, and talked about at length.

Charlotte's favourite bit: Developing a better understanding of just how hard it is to communicate or to explain what depression is and why you feel the way you do when you're suffering with it.

Daddy's favourite bit: A hugely personal book drawn from Debi's own experiences, and putting her amazing writing and illustration skills to brilliant use. Do not miss this one. It's a vital addition to your bookshelf and a book I really would love to see used in schools too.

"Night Shift" by Debi Gliori was released on 12th January 2017, Published by Hot Key Books (kindly sent for review)