Reviewed for Just Imagine by Caroline Ash.
With a growing mental health crisis in schools this book serves as a timely reminder to ensure our children know who or what they can turn to for support – through the ordeals of childhood or when life deals an unexpected blow.
12 year old Izzy is reeling from the car accident that put her Mum in a coma but is bravely carrying on with school and day to day life. Sadly, this coincides with her lifelong best friend distancing herself to be with the cool kid. Two of the most important people in Izzy’s life have deserted her. As Izzy lies on her bed staring at the beautiful mural painted by her Mother she notices that the colours are fading and disappearing. Throughout the book we see Izzy turn to many different forms of comfort to save herself from a world that is turning grey.
She finds a new kind-hearted friend, Toby, who having suffered his own trauma is now in a wheelchair but approaching life with an infectious positivity. Together they discover a swan and her cygnets and set about helping the youngest, most vulnerable of them to ensure it survives. The kindness of these children is poignant and as they nurture and nourish the cygnet they too are rewarded with the joys that nature and helping another can bring. Izzy is fortunate to be surrounded by loving and caring adults – importantly it’s not only her family but also her teachers that take time to listen and look out for her, noticing when she is struggling.
Drama and the arts offer Izzy an escape mechanism and a way of expressing her emotions – enabling her to gain a better understanding of how she is feeling. Through studying the work artists and Shakespeare, Izzy is able to begin to make sense of her world. As schools see a reduction in the arts and mental health funding, we are reminded how vital it can be in supporting the emotional wellbeing of our children.
This book positively deals with difficult issues and would be ideal for children transitioning into to high school or upper key stage two. It’s perfect for teachers to promote discussions about what it is to feel happy, how we cope when faced with difficult situations and what we can do to support each other to feel well again. It could also be used as a gateway to projects on Shakespeare, nature or an art project.
The Mystery of the Colour Thief by Ewa Jozefkowicz was published by Zephyr/Head of Zeus on 3rd May 2018.
Caroline Ash is Deputy Head Teacher at Horton Grange Primary School, Northumberland