Bomji and Spotty’s Frightening Adventure
– A Story About How to Recover from a Scary Experience
How Sprinkle the Pig Escaped the River of Tears
– A Story About Being Apart From Loved Ones
How Little Coyote Found His Secret Strength
– A Story About How to Get Through Hard Times
Written By Anne Westcott and C.C. Alicia Hu. Introduced by Pat Ogden. Illustrated by Ching-Pang Kuo. Published by Jessica Kingsley Publishing.
As a creative therapist who loves working with different narratives, I am always on the lookout for good stories to use in my sessions in schools with children. So when the Counsellors Café asked me to review three, I was delighted to accept. This series, introduced by Pat Ogden, a world-leading expert on trauma and the body, is easy to read and well illustrated, the endearing illustrations match the gentle rhythm of the stories perfectly. The charming, Bruna style, characters take the reader on a gentle journey through everyday life where little people find themselves having to cope with their big feelings triggered by familiar therapy scenarios.
The issues raised range from family bullying in How little Coyote Found His Secret Strength, separation anxiety in How Sprinkle the Pig Escaped the River of Tears and trauma in Bomji and Spotty’s Frightening Adventure. All three books are thoughtfully written and I love the way the young reader is able to easily experience the same story from different perspectives as you move through the different character lenses and perspectives.
The stories interlink beautifully creating a cycle of events and experiences that offer many opportunities for further discussion and ‘reframing’. The aim of each story is to reflect on how our experiences can affect us, shape us and ultimately give us the opportunity to discover our hidden strengths.
They are aimed at children aged 4 –10. I have found when using them in my sessions that some younger children struggled with the length of the stories, which are between 24 – 32 pages long, some pages having over 100 words.
Equally some of the older children have found the style too young for them. As with any book or story for this age group you will need to judge the level of your audience carefully before attempting to engage them. The stories are fairly complex and may take some explanation for the child to fully understand the points the authors are trying to make. Having said that, each book contains excellent guidance notes for adults on how to discuss the story’s themes with children, it even covers how to ‘externalise’ the story using play, drama and art.
I think these books would make an insightful and practically useful addition to any library of a therapist working with young children. Teachers and parents may also find them useful as a support tool for the classroom and at home.
Available from Jessica Kingsley Publishing all good bookstores
Kay Brophy is an experienced and respected Psychologist Family Practitioner, and Author. She is a member of the British Psychological Society (BPS) and The Association for Family Therapy (AFT) and holds a BA (Hons) in Business, a Graduate Diploma in Psychology and a Postgraduate Certificate in Child Focused Systemic Practice from the IFT (Institute of Family Therapy). She has her own practice, Acorn Families, and has been working in schools for the past 11 years. Kay is currently helping educate children about safe ways to express their feelings using fun characters and stories.
You can find more on Kay's work or get in touch via Twitter