Deep in a wooded land live a family united by love but also by the burden of anxiety. Then one day, a very shaky box deposits Cookie, who transforms them. Even as Mental Health Awareness month winds to a close, books like, Cookie remind us all of the mental anguish young people may experience at any time of their lives. For some, it may never cease, for others, finding solace in a soul like, Cookie is an indescribable source of comfort and hope.
It is little secret I adore Border collies, having accrued a few myself. Border collie puppies are sweeter than candy and better than sunshine for brightening ones mood and making things better, so what better character than, Cookie, a charming black and white pup, to tell the story of his relationship with Girl. Once Cookie settles into Girl’s family, Cookie learns to love Girl without restraint. Together they find the yummiest smells and discover the chewiest chewy things. Play time is fun time but Cookie appreciates cuddle snuggle time just as absolutely.
Some days though, Girl is too sad to play. They cuddle instead in Girl’s bed; Cookie always absorbing the sad and then licking it away as best he can until Girl’s smile returns. But reoccurring bouts of sadness still confine Girl to her ‘big cuddle’. This confounds Cookie but does not prevent him from loving Girl, taking her on adventures and licking away her dark days until she is able to shine again.
Cookie is the type of picture book whose appealing characters and playful illustrations immediately endear it to youngsters yet will also choke the hearts of older readers (like this one) all the way to its tender end. Susannah Crispe’s watercolour illustrations flow with joie de vivre displaying a gentle balance between the delicate beauties of nature and the oppressing weight of anxiety and depression. We get the sense Girl wants to be happy but for whatever reason, some days, she just can’t. We all suffer days like that, some more acutely and frequently than others.
Isabelle Duff’s touching first person text (from Cookie’s own heart!) openly acknowledges the presence of mental ills and addresses them in a child-friendly way that provides opportunity for open honest discussions about mental well-being; an important first step forward in the acceptance and treatment of mental disorders within our communities.
Cookie’s cuter than cute countenance of sensitivity and positivity is the perfect conduit for reminding us of the powerful presence a pet companion can provide for those suffering from mental turmoil. Non-judgemental, emotionally astute and forever there, pets like Cookie offer salvation and calm and most significantly, reasons to care and to smile again. What could be better than nibbling on a cookie of your own?
Timely, affectionate, and quietly affecting, Cookie will appeal to a wide audience, Border collie lovers notwithstanding and is highly recommended.
For more information and links to picture books that address various mental health disorders, read my blog post from a couple of weeks ago, OCD Awareness Week 2021. EK Books also has a broad selection of titles that address childhood anxieties.
Author: Isabelle Duff
Illustrator: Susannah Crispe
Publisher: EK Books, $24.99
Publication Date: October 2021
For ages: 4 – 8
Type: Picture Book