The colors leach out of a child’s bright world when his father is afflicted with depression. Will they ever return?
In this resolutely purposeful episode, a young boy describes his once-cheery dad’s downward spiral while repeatedly wondering—despite his father’s denials—if he’s somehow at fault for the changed behavior. Though on their walks together “the clouds smiled at him and the trees waved hello,” suddenly one day Dad is “full of sadness.” After that he sees only “the sun sulking, clouds, frowning, rain crying.” He stops leaving the house and sometimes even bed. In the illustrations, grays and blues take over for the bright greens and yellows, Dad stands with head bowed, and the narrator draws a crying figure on a foggy window. At last, “important people at a hospital” supply both medication and a therapist, and eventually the sun shines again, the shadows recede, and the boy gets a “great, big, squeezy hug.” Puzzlingly, the other parent making up the titular “family” appears in just one small scene. Though next to Quentin Blake’s illustrations in Michael Rosen’s Sad Book (2005), the use of color to signal emotional state is as heavy-handed as the prose, younger children struggling to cope with parental illness, particularly their own misplaced feelings of guilt, may draw comfort from the upbeat ending.
Subtle as a rock but likely to be more effective than many other bibliotherapeutic titles. (Picture book. 6-9)