Wednesday, 19 August 2015

A Monster Ate My Mum - a book review

An important subject, and one that can be tricky to talk about, Post Natal Depression (PND) affects 10-15% of new mothers. To highlight this issue and facilitate its discussion, comes author Jen Faulkner's book, A Monster Ate My Mum.

Jen, a sufferer of PND herself, knows how debilitating this illness can be and how it can affect the whole family. Watching her older children see her suffer, Jen tried to find the right words to explain to them what was happening. Understandably this was difficult, and in the end Jen took to writing a story to help her express it all.

A rhyming book, written through the eyes of a child whose Mum is postnatally depressed, 
Jen uses the central character, to tell the story. A young boy, goes on the hunt to look for the monsters that have taken different parts of his Mum. He looks for her smile. Her laugh. Her spark.
Excuse me, but have you eaten my Mum? 
I want her back I want some fun.
I want to see her smile, my Mum.
Is she in your big round tum?

The boy learns that they didn't mean to eat his Mum and that in time, all of the things they have taken will be returned.
No, she's not here I just ate her smile. 
I'll give it back after a while. 
I'm sorry, I was hungry you see. 
I don't know where your Mum could be.
With its beautifully captured yet subtle explanation, this book offers the children of mothers suffering with PND understanding; helping them see that they haven't done anything wrong themselves. It is the monsters who are responsible for taking away Mum's happiness - although it will come back, thus giving the story - and the reader - resolution.

The monsters themselves are friendly and are portrayed in that way; Helen Braid's water colour pictures are quite beguiling. Helen is a children's book illustrator who has developed an instantly recognisable style of her own.
 Her illustrations are colourful, gentle and nurturing, and manage to capture the little lad's feelings throughout, all adding to the reality of A Monster Ate My Mum.

A big thumbs up for this clever story, and its many positive points. Parents can under-estimate a child's emotional intelligence, but children are often very astute, picking up on stuff when things aren't right. This book can help answer questions. Perhaps, better than that, it can help raise questions. It is a great conversation opener for a mother to talk to her children about what is going on, and on a level that they can interpret. Not only will A Monster Ate My Mum offer reassurance, it does so in a very gentle manner.

On a personal note:
Having had Post Natal Depression, when I was offered the chance to review a book for young children that tackled the subject, I thought it would make an interesting read. It did - albeit I found it a very emotional one. It is a painful subject matter, but one I believe the author is right to address within the children's market. I'd like to add that I think Jen Faulkner is a brilliantly brave lady, who also happens to be a very creative and talented one. Well done for facing demons and normalising them. Thank you Jen.

Suitable for ages: 2-12 years
Price: Available as an ebook for 99p and in print, for £7.49
Currently available here

Jen Faulkner hopes to help other families affected by the illness with her book. Jen is available to discuss her PND journey and the story it helped her create. Contact Jen Faulkner: instinctive or @MonsterAteMyMum or go to her website: 
A Monster Ate My Mum


Mummy Tries said...

Great book to raise awareness about PND. I remember reading it through tears the first time. Really thrilled for Jen that it's doing so well xx

Emma Oliver said...

Renee, you are so kind - always there with a supportive comment. Also, always there commenting on my blog posts. I really appreciate the time you take to do so. Writing a blog is hard work as is the admin that goes with it - you are a star! x