Doodles and Drafts – A not-so-BLAH Blog Tour with Karen Tyrrell
by Dimity Powell - November 4th, 2013
In the time I spent crewing at sea, I endured several disabling bouts of seasickness. Once established, it’s a difficult malaise to throw off. The one thing that helped (besides boxes of seasick tablets) was knowing that others were suffering as well, often far worse than I. Have you ever encountered that? Symptoms (of nausea) miraculously evaporate in the presence of one who is experiencing worse than you. It’s empowering in a uniquely weird human kind of way.
Tyrrell noted for her work on speaking up and out for mental health awareness, is keen to tackle the issues surrounding the mental well-being of our young people. Depression and its associated ills can plague children as young as six, undermining their self-esteem, confidence and emotional security.
Nobody readily embraces the discord change and upheaval produces and being friendless at school can be a catalyst for such dread. Bailey experiences not only this but a myriad of other anxieties and fears accumulating in a colossal feeling of BLAH.
‘Sad days’ become his norm. Self-dislike, apathy, paranoia and discontent appear his closest companions, even after Fuzzy, his dog, tries to intervene. We eventually learn that all Bailey really wants is a friend, someone to share his solitude and banish his despair. Turns out, the new kid, Tom, is more prone to ‘seasickness’ so to speak, than Bailey. Forgetting his own discomforts or perhaps recognising the need to help Tom overcome his, Bailey allows Tom into his world. Together they find a common link and forge a salving friendship.
‘Dramatically speaking, intent is everything’* and Tyrrell’s unabashed use of force-filled verbs leaves no doubt as to the degree of sadness weighing so heavily on Bailey. The leaden seriousness of Bailey’s situation is thankfully beautifully balanced by the cartoonisque illustrations of Aaron Pocock.
His upbeat portrayal of Bailey has busloads of eye-popping kiddie appeal while the use of bright colours and thoughtful visual detail allows us to feel all of Bailey’s glumness and pain without being overwhelmed by it.
Bailey Beats the BLAH’s no frills approach and design ensures there is no ambiguity in its message to young readers and carers: that we can all suffer bad, sad days no matter whom or how old we are, but we need never suffer alone.
Perfect for 4 – 8 year olds, this picture book will be useful as a discussion tool in counselling and early education situations.
Digital Future Press October 2013
*The Art of Racing in the Rain-Garth Stein
Embracing the cause to share important life messages through the medium of picture books, I was honoured to officially launch Bailey Beats the BLAH with Karen Tyrrell and a colourful cast of characters at the Black Cat Book Shop recently and managed to pull her aside to answer a few quick questions. Here’s what she had to say…
Q Karen, this is your first picture book. What prompted you to focus on the mental well-being of children as its topic?
When I was a teacher, parents at my school harassed me until breaking point. Luckily I recovered, becoming a mental health advocate, passionate about teaching resilience skills. After the success of my breakthrough memoirs, ME & HER: A Memoir of Madness and ME & HIM: A Guide to Recovery I wanted to create a picture book to empower kids with bounce-back-ability.
Q You’ve worked for many years as an educator of children. Is Bailey’s character, based on anyone you know personally or from you own experiences as a child?
I’ve taught many kids like Bailey. Sad, stressed-out or withdrawn kids are becoming far too common in our over-stressful and pressurized world.
Q Is Bailey a character you see tackling other kid issues in future picture book stories? What’s next for Bailey?
I’m developing MORE picture books to empower children to live happier, healthier and more functional lives.
Q What’s on the draft table for Karen Tyrell? More self-help, another picture book?
I’m working on two mental health books: A chapter book for mid-graders plus a fiction novel for teenagers. Both books encourage young people to deal with their mental health issues they encounter at home and at school.
Q If you could pass on one golden piece of advice to kids like Bailey who are suffering BLAH days, what would it be?
Don’t suffer alone. Reach out to others: your friends, your family, your teacher to help you overcome those BLAH days.
Kids, you hold within yourselves all the POWER you need to stamp out the BLAH.
Q What’s one thing on your non-writing wish list you’d like to tick off?
My dream is to return to school as an author-teacher, to share Bailey Beats the BLAH, helping children and their families to turn their BLAH into ha-ha-ha!
Thanks Karen for sharing your dreams and passion with Boomerang.
Why not join Karen as she bops around the cyberphere on tour with Bailey. Scroll down for a chance to win a great prize or two. Simply leave a comment and you are in the draw to win!
Bailey Blog Tour & Book Giveaway
6th Nov http://www.kids-bookreview.com/
8th Nov http://charmaineclancy.com
9th Nov www.melissawray.blogspot.com.au
10th Nov http://claireeverafter.com/
11th Nov http://squigglemum.com
17th Nov http://www.writeawaywithme.com/blog/
18th Nov http://angelasunde.blogspot.com
Bailey Beats the Blah Book Giveaway
WIN: Copies of Bailey Beats the Blah, a signed Bailey artwork by illustrator Aaron Pocock and a picture book assessment with chief editor at Book Cover Café.
Leave a comment on any of the 16 hops on the Bailey Beats the Blah tour Nov 3rd -18th. The more comments you leave the MORE chances to WIN.
WINNERS announced on Nov 20th at www. karentyrrell.com