Review Blog

Nov 29 2012

Coming home by Sharon McGuinness

cover image

Ill. by Shannon Melville. Wombat Books, 2012. ISBN 9781921633775.
(Ages: 5-9) Highly recommended. Gemma cannot understand why her father seems to be so sad. She watches him as he sits alone in his garden and sees how he can laugh with his friends when they come around, but then how he goes into a silent mood when they leave. She dances and talks and laughs but he doesn't seem to listen. Then one day he feels the sun on his face and he starts to smile.
Very few picture books look at the topic of depression, which, from the notes at the back of this book, one in five people will suffer from in their lifetime. Sharon McGuinness has tackled this tough topic with sensitivity and hope, vividly portraying how Gemma feels when her father is depressed. Nothing that Gemma does to try and lift her father's mood works. Children who are living with someone who suffers from depression will be able to identify with Gemma as she tries her best to understand the greyness that surrounds her father. The ideas contained in this book will assist children to gain an insight into the illness of depression, allowing them to know that it is not their fault. Adults who suffer from depression themselves will better understand the effects that it has on family members.
The illustrations by Shannon Melville complement the text and add to the understanding of the nature of the illness. Starting with blacks and greys the pictures are coloured to show the depth of the illness but by the end of the book, the illustrations are in warm yellows and blues demonstrating the light that has come back into Gemma's father and her life.
Information is given at the back of the book about the importance of seeking help and support if someone the reader knows seems depressed and links are given to various organisations that can help. Author royalties will go The Black Dog Institute, which has endorsed the book.
This is an invaluable book for a library to have because it would be of immense help to many children who know or who are living with a person with depression.
Pat Pledger

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