April 02, 2012

Mental Health Book List: Part I


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 of depression, trauma, self-abuse, grief, and suicide. Here is my first list:

Picture Books
Virginia Wolf
by Kyo Maclear
Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
Kids Can Press
32 pp.
Ages 5-10

Virginia, awakens feeling "wolfish": dark, unhappy and reclusive. Her sister, Vanessa, is surprised by the extent of Virginia's doldrums, and unsuccessfully tries to cheer her up. Only when she makes the effort to ask Virginia what she needs is Vanessa successful in using her artistry to engage Virginia and brighten her mood. 

Almost Eden 
by Anita Horrocks
284 pp.
Ages 9-13
When Elsie Redekop's Mom, who suffers from depression, is hospitalized at Eden, the local mental health hospital, Elsie is convinced it is her fault.  Her sisters and Dad, and even the cat, Tommy, have their own ways of dealing with Mom's illness and absence, and not always well.

by Alma Fullerton
Dancing Cats Books/Cormorant
255 pp.
Ages 10-13
After her mom takes off to return to performing on the road, Casey must deal with her autistic sister, Ginny, taunts from friends and bullies about her mom's leaving,  and her mom's partner's despair and despondency.  Casey's confusion leads to make several attempts to set fires solely for the purpose of sending smoke signals to her mom.

The Crazy Man
by Pamela Porter
Groundwood Books
214 pp.
Ages 8-12
After Em loses her foot in a farming accident, her father leaves, blaming himself.  Her mother enlists the help of Angus, a quiet, hard-working man from the local mental hospital, to help with the farm. While dealing with her own disability, and desperately trying to find her father, Em witnesses how prejudice and abuse towards Angus has its roots in fear.

Dear Jo: The Story of Losing Leah ... and Searching for Hope
by Christina Kilbourne
Lobster Press
188 pp.
Ages 10-15
After her best friend Leah goes missing, as a result of online chatting, twelve-year-old Max shares her experiences in her diary, revealing how the trauma affects her relationships with everyone, ultimately threatening her psychological well-being.

Johnny Kellock Died today
by Hadley Dyer
HarperCollins Canada
152 pp.
Ages 9-12
What starts off as the boring summer of 1959 becomes one in with Rosalie enlists the help of David, the Gravedigger, to help find her cousin, Johnny, when he disappears.  While no one knows what has happened to Johnny, David 's experiences and even a secret help Rosalie become more aware of issues with which her family is dealing.

Meeting Miss 405
by Lois Peterson
Orca Book Publishers
102 pp.
Ages 8-11
When Tansy's mother goes away to deal with her depression, and her dad is overwhelmed with work and home responsibilities, arrangements are made for Tansy to be babysat after school by Miss Stella who lives down the hall in Apt. 405.  Miss Stella, a unique woman with an unusual life, helps Tansy manage life and all its complexities.

Odd Man Out
by Sarah Ellis
Groundwood Books
160 pp.
Ages 9-12
With his mother newly remarried and on her honeymoon, Kip is sent to stay with his Gran and his 5 girl cousins. Through a variety of quirky adventures and discoveries, Kip comes across a special place of his father's and his notebook of odd notations and evidence of a strange conspiracy.)

Out of the Box
by Michelle Mulder
Orca Book Publishers
150 pp.
Ages 9+
Thirteen-year-old Ellie eagerly travels to Victoria to spend the whole summer with her fun-loving aunt Jeanette who recently lost her partner, Alison, to leukemia.  But, it's not her aunt who is having troubles dealing with life.  It's Ellie's mother whose anxiety and stress seem to be driving wedges between herself and her husband, daughter and sister.

A Perfect Gentle Knight
by Kit Pearson
Penguin Books Canada
192 pp.
Ages 8-12
After their mother’s death, five children must resolve whether to continue to find security in their Round Table fantasy or accept the confusion of reality.

by Gordon Korman
Scholastic Canada
262 pp.
Ages 12-15
Marcus Jordan is the new kid in town, hoping to make a name for himself as quarterback on the all-star football team. When Marcus befriends Charlie, a mischievous man in his 50s who crashes Marcus' solo practices at the local park, he has no idea that Charlie was a celebrated NFL linebacker.  While teaching Marcus a lot about football, Charlie demonstrates some unpredictable behaviours that threaten Marcus' position in the community.

by Dianne Linden
Thistledown Press
134 pp.
Ages 9-13
Young Mike and his sister move to live with their uncle when their mother joins a peacekeeping mission in Bosnia. But, his mother's absence and a series of incidents leave Mike fixated on death.  He finds solace with unusual  companions both real and otherwise.

Walking Backward
by Catherine Austen
Orca Book Publishers
167 pp.
Ages 10-13
Twelve-year-old Josh is unclear about how to grieve following the recent death of his mother in a car accident (resulting from a snake in her car). While Josh’s four-year-old brother, Sammy, finds solace in talking to his Power Ranger and his dad keeps busy building a time machine to bring back their mom before the accident, their psychiatrist, Dr. Tierney, encourages them to keep journals.

by Eric Walters
Penguin Canada
Ages 11+
171 pp.
Marcus (15), Megan(10) and their mom have been waiting anxiously for the return of dad, who has been serving as part of Special Operations in Afghanistan for nine months.  Upon his return, though, he doesn’t act the way he used to and through Marcus’ narration, we learn of dad’s post-traumatic stress disorder.

1 comment:

  1. What a fabulous list! Love Virginia Wolf so much, I hope the others are just as good.