May 21, 2012

Mental Health Book List: Part III


In support of Partners for Mental Health's Not Myself Today campaign across Canada, I've compiled several lists of literature with characters, both main and secondary, dealing with issues typically identified as related to mental health i.e., those that impair judgement, stability, reliability, or general social or vocational capabilities.  This third book list indicates how pervasive issues dealing with mental health are in our fictional world, as well as our corporeal one.  In this list, I've included Canadian picture books, fiction and young adult titles, as well as any movies that include characters dealing with or plot-lines embedded with mental health issues.  Additional resources can be found in the earlier two lists: Mental Health Book List I (April 2, 2012) and Mental Health Book List II (April 12, 2012).

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Picture Books

Edward the "Crazy Man"
by Marie Day
Annick Press
32 pp.
Ages 6-8
2002 
The "crazy man" dressed in wild costumes makes an impression on young Charlie when he spots him on the way to school.  But the "crazy man", who suffers from schizophrenia and lives on the street, comes to Charlie's assistance more than once.

EveryBody's Different on EveryBody Street
by Sheree Fitch
Illustrated by Laura Jolicoeur
Nova Scotia Hospital Foundation
25 pp.
Ages 5-8
2001
Sheree Fitch's lively poetry reveals how everyone is different and similar, with weakness and strengths. This book was published to support the Nova Scotia Hospital and raise awareness of mental illness and addiction.

Grumpy Bird
by Jeremy Tankard
Scholastic
32 pp.
Ages 3-5
2007
When Bird wakes up snarly and unhappy, his friends try to change his mood and cheer him up.



The Red Tree
by Shaun Tan
Simply Read Books
32 pp.
Ages 8+
2003
This sophisticated picture book depicts the despair of a young girl with depression.

Scaredy Squirrel
by Mélanie Watt
Kids Can Press
40 pp. 
Ages 3-7
2006
Scaredy Squirrel's fears of everything from tarantulas to killer bees have left him with a life of seclusion and schedules.

What elephant?
by Geneviève Côté
Kids Can Press
32 pp.
Ages 3-7
2006
When George comes home one day to find an elephant watching TV and eating cookies in his living room, no one believes him.  When the elephant returns the next day, George begins to wonder whether he is just dreaming or crazy.
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Fiction 

After the Fire
by Becky Citra
Orca Books 
186 pp.
Ages 8-11
2010 
While her mom and boyfriend are passed out drunk, a fire breaks out and Melissa is left scarred.  Two years later, Melissa, her brother and mom are spending the summer at a friend's cottage. There Melissa meets Alice and, although she is embarrassed about her less-than-perfect family, Melissa learns that Alice is not what she seems and her family is dealing with grief in a variety of unhealthy ways.

Breakdown
by Budge Wilson
Scholastic
152 pp.
Ages 11-13
1988
If you can still find this book, you'll be treated to a compassionate account of a father's depression and breakdown and his family's reactions to his illness and the roles they play in his recovery.


Drowning in Secrets
by Brenda Bellingham
Scholastic Canada
180 pp.

Ages 11-14
1998
Chloe, 16, travels to Shuswap Lake, B.C. to reconcile both her lack of memories about her mother's death by drowning eleven years earlier and the recurring dreams she has of a drowning woman.

Mercy's Birds
by Linda Holeman
Tundra Books
198 pp.

Ages 11+
1998
The women in Mercy's family suffer from depression and alcoholism and dysfunctional relationships including Mercy whose fears, such as of her aunt's boyfriend's inappropriate attention, can be overwhelming.  But, courage and selflessness help rescue them all from the point of no return.

No Cafes in Narnia
by Nikki Tate
Sono Nis Press
173 pp.

Ages 9-12
2000
Part of The Tarragon Island series, No Cafes in Narnia tells the story of a thirteen-year-old girl's need to manage her feelings with regards to a move to Tarragon Island, off the B.C. coast, the death of her grandfather, and her mother's subsequent depression.

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Young Adult


Before Wings
by Beth Goobie
Orca
203 pp.
Ages 14 and up
2000
After a near-death from an aneurysm, 15-year-old Adrien is more volatile and anxious, so her Aunt Erin offers her a job at the camp she manages.  While her Aunt Erin battles depression, Adrien tries to make sense of the spirits she now sees, even more plentiful at Camp Lakeshore.

Blink and Caution
by Tim Wynne-Jones
Candlewick Press
342 pp.
Ages 14+
2011
Blink left his mother and abusive stepfather for a life on the streets, and Caution took to the streets after the accidental shooting death of her cherished older brother. When Caution decides take off on her drug-dealer boyfriend, Blink and Caution's lives collide in less than conventional circumstances. 

Carving My Name
by Mary-Kate McDonald
Thistledown Press
137 pp.
Ages 12 and up
1998
Nine short stories tell of how young people find ways to deal with grief, schizophrenia and other issues.

Ceiling Stars
by Sandra Diersch
James Lorimer
141 pp.
Ages 12-17
2004
Although Danielle is more adventurous than her friend Chris, her increasingly risky behaviours lead Chris to believe something is not right. 

The Cupid War
by Timothy Carter
Flux
234 pp.
Ages 12-16
2011
In this fantastical and humourous satire, Ricky Fallon becomes a Cupid (after his accidental suicide) and finds himself immersed in others' struggles with depression and suicide.

Mistik Lake
by Martha Brooks
Groundwood Books
208 pp.
Ages 13-17
2007
In the Manitoba community of Mistik Lake, Odella, the eldest of three daughters, finds herself coping with and helping her sisters cope with their parents' divorce and her mother's unhappiness and death.  Luckily, her mother's aunt Gloria is also there to offer support.

Night Runner
by Max Turner
HarperCollins
261 pp.
Age 14-16 
2008
Orphaned and dealing with a multitude of health issues, both physical and mental, Zack is sent to live in a mental health ward of a hospital.  Things get weirder when a strange man tells Zack that he is a vampire and needs to flee the hospital.
Northward to the Moon
by Polly Horvath
Groundwood Books
244 pp.
Ages 12-16
2010
Jane and her family from My One Hundred Adventures (Groundwood, 2008) begin a series of journeys from Saskatchewan to Nevada, Massachusetts, and British Columbia. While they deal with a mysterious duffel bag of money, Jane observes her siblings to attempt to identify their respective fathers based on mental health histories. 

Outback
by Robin Stevenson
Orca
131 pp.
Ages 12 and up
2011
When teen angst leaves Jayden suffering with depression, his crazy Uncle Mel invites him to Australia but Mel's paranoia soon becomes a greater impediment to Jayden's welfare.

Schizo
by Kim Firmston
James Lorimer
150 pp.
Ages 12-17
2011
This volume of Lorimer's Side Streets series revolves around Dan's need to be a typical teen while juggling the repercussions of his mother' schizophrenia, particularly after she stops taking her medication.

Shadow Boxing
by Sherie Posesorski
Coteau Books
262 pp.
Ages 12-15
2009
The death of her mother has left Alice grief-stricken, though her father seems ready to move on.  Unfortunately, Alice's choosing to cut herself and create shadow boxes of her mother's trinkets, while failing to "improve" with the help of countless psychiatrists, has her father planning on moving her to either a boarding school or a mental institution.

Somewhere in Blue
by Gillian Cummings
Lobster Press 
336 pp.
Ages 14 and up
2010
The dysfunctional relationship between a mother and daughter is brought to the foreground when the father dies, leaving Sandy suffering from depression and her mother dealing with single parenthood.

Voiceless
by Caroline Wissing
Thistledown Press
241 pp.
Ages 14+
2012
After the murder of her grandmother, Annabel becomes mute.  Now in foster care and known as Ghost, Annabel finds some companionship and solace on a farm.  But, Ghost's yearning for love has her running away with a new foster boy, Graydon, and making some poor choices expose her to sexual abuse and life alone on the streets.

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Non-Fiction

Can I Catch It Like a Cold? Coping With a Parent’s Depression
by Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Illustrated by Joe Weissmann
Tundra Books

2009
A boy's questions about his father's depression are answered with regards to what depression is and how it is treated, reassuring children that there is help and support and that they are not alone.

 
Children of War: Voices of Iraqi Refugees
by Deborah Ellis
Groundwood/House of Anansi
128 pp.
Ages 10 and up
2009 
These narratives of young Iraqi refugees tell of the traumatic outcomes of experiencing war.

My Kind of Sad: What It's Like to be Young and Depressed
by Kate Scowen
Illustrated by Jeff Szuc
Annick Press
168 pp.
Ages 13-17
2006
Appropriate for teens, My Kind of Sad describes what depression is, how it can manifest itself, how it can be treated, and what resources are available to those seeking help.

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Movies

First Break
Directed by Adrienne Amato and Derek Rogers 
Produced by Silva Basmajian
National Film Board of Canada
50 min. 55 sec.
Order Number: C9197 116
Ages 15 and up
1997
This movie looks at several young adults and how they cope with the onset of mental illness, either schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or psychosis.

This Beggar’s Description
Directed by Pierre Tétrault
Produced by Gerry Flahive
National Film Board of Canada
65 min.
Order Number: 9105 214
Ages 16+
2005
Pierre Tétrault directs this story of his brother Phil's attempts to deal with his schizophrenia and continue to create poetry.

Flight From Darkness
Directed by Trevor Grant
Produced by Don Copeland and Lynne Beck Copeman
Produced for NFB by Joe MacDonald
National Film Board of Canada
52 min.
Order Number: 153C 9107 052
Ages 13+
2007
Percy Paul from a Dene community in Saskatchewan becomes a brilliant mathematician at Princeton before a suicide attempt leads to a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

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