Wednesday 31 March 2021

Charlie and the Dog Who Came to Stay by Dr. Ruth Spence and Kimiya Pahlevan


Link to publisher

Published by: Cherish Publishing (a division of Trigger Publishing), January 2021


After being a primary school teacher for sixteen years, children's health and well-being is something which remains close to my heart. With the Covid-19 pandemic adding to the rising crisis concerning children's mental health, Dr. Ruth Spence, a research psychologist, has penned this beautiful picture book in order to raise awareness of childhood depression and to provide a resource that supports discussion around this topic.

Charlie is happy and content until she moves house. Now she's made a new friend - a big, black dog- who isn't very good for her. With Charlie unable to live her life to the full, her mum tries to help her find ways to keep the dog under control. Can Charlie find happiness again? 

After being given the privilege of reviewing Superheroes Don't Get Scared and Arthur Wants a Balloon, both of which are published by mental health publisher, Trigger Publishing, I knew this book was going to offer something incredibly special to readers. I was right. Simply written and beautifully illustrated, Dr. Ruth Spence personifies depression as a big, black dog- overpowering and strong- and acknowledges that dark feelings are alive and very real. The introduction of Charlie's mum, halfway through the book, also conveys the important message to young readers that depression is something they need help with and cannot tackle alone. 

The simplicity of this book makes it accessible and relatable to young children. As with the two books I've mentioned above, it doesn't belittle the enormity of dealing with depression by offering a solution. What it does do, however, is encourage young readers to reach out, to talk about their feelings and to ask for help. At the back of the book, simple exercises have been provided to try and elicit discussion with children around the topic of mental health. 

The most important take-away for readers of this book is that the big, black dog does not go away.  With help and support, Charlie learns to control it enough to go back to doing the things she loves. She is also left with the confidence of knowing that if the dog grows big again, she has the power to do something about it. Knowing that this book can help equip our own children to follow in Charlie's footsteps, makes it a very powerful read indeed.

A big thank you for Cherish Publishing for giving me the chance to review this text, which is available to buy now. 

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