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OCD Awareness Week 2021

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October marks a myriad of mental health milestones. And while the swirl of acronyms and dates, hashtags and headlines may set your mind tumbling into confusion, take heart in the solid certainty that now, more than ever before, the acknowledgement of and support for people in mental distress and decline is growing. And that is a good thing, too great to measure. Why? Because it allows people to recognise, accept and most importantly, REACH OUT for help when  they need it most rather than live in quiet shame and agony. This is an admission I myself am slowly coming to realise, as well... How though does this all relate to my advocacy to create Kids' Lit with heart, soul and purpose? Well,  occasions like: OCD Awareness Week, Mental Health Month , Disability Awareness month to name but a few, all serve as avenues for sufferers of mental illness or those whose peers and or family are afflicted with mental disorders and conditions, to explore and learn more. In short to become more

Review: The What On Earth Institute of Wonder

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Lisa Nicol’s whimsical way with words is becoming the stuff of legend. Her narratives are an intoxicating mix of wonderment, cheek and incredible heart; a strange combination but one that makes her middle grade novels fulfilling and memorable. The What on Earth Institute of Wonder perpetuates this premise while managing to incorporate an African forest elephant and a New Zealand Kakapo into the same sentence, never mind the same Kombi van! And yes! I knew I was in for something special once a Kombi was mentioned. At its heart, this story is a vigorous nod towards biodiversity and the need to repair the ‘magnificent jigsaw puzzle’ of Earth and all its creatures. It is also a rollicking tale of adventure, misfortune, villainous wrong-doers and the extreme force of friendship. We are cautioned by Nicol’s that this is a strange story, the type that is often hard to believe but of course, for most children that is of little consequence. So when Sal befriends a talking parrot and then di

Turning Points: New Anthology Short Story - KISMET'S ODYSSEY

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There comes a time in everyone's life where a split second choice, an extreme of nature, a fork in the road prompts a unique turning point . Some of them we recognise for the epiphanies that they are; shocking, incredible, visionary. Others, we barely notice. Nearly all are life altering.  Earlier last year, I was fortunate enough to access a challenge that got me up and writing again , to paraphrase Exisle Publishing CEO and editor of The Turning Point Anthology , Gareth St John Thomas. The catalyst was a writing competition describing a turning point in one's life. This competition took place during the peak of our global Covid pandemic and as Gareth points out, was the stimulus that allowed me to reconnect not only with my fatalistic past but also my waning creative verve.  My tale,  Kismet’s Odyssey , is a true-life, deeply affecting account of my experience as a young bareboat charter courier on the sunbaked Ionian island of Corfu. It was a time of kissing summer breeze

Book Bites: Fabulously Funny (and not so funny) Dads - This Is For You!

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What do you call a magician with no magic? Ian. OK so not all dads are funny. Neither are all mums attempting dad jokes but with this selection of father-inspired picture books, you’ll come a lot closer to coaxing a smile or five from your under eights this Father’s Day – or any day. I’ve included a few touching tales too to ensure story time shared by any father figure in your child’s life is meaningful and filled with tenderness. Enjoy and Happy Father’s Day to all the awesome role models out there who inspire, entertain and most importantly, embarrass their kids! You rock.   My Dad Thinks He’s Super Funny Katrina Germein has done it again, for the third time actually. This instalment in the picture book series, My Dad Thinks He’s …, began life as a collection of ludicrously lamentable rib-tickling jokes aimed squarely at inducing eye-rolls. It is also a harmoniously hilarious homage to family units applauding the unique foibles and quirks employed by the (older) members that bond

Review: Devils In Danger

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Samantha Wheeler’s philosophy that ‘Everyone can make a difference’ not only appears in all of her eco-themed middle grade novels, it inspires youngsters to strive determinedly and dream big. Devils in Danger embodies this notion in forest-fulls namely, Tasmanian forests. Grader sixer, Killarney is not a lover of school. She believes learning is best left to those without ambitions of becoming an ace hairdresser, like she has. Using her talented hair-styling mother as a role model, Killarney struggles to involve herself in studies, preferring the robust life of walking the neighbour’s dog around her Tasmanian hometown when not performing barista duties for her mother’s clients. When the horrific screaming and yelping begins, Killarney’s family are thrown into confusion. Could a murderer be on the loose in their sleepy township? Why would a murderer steal towels and scarves? Killarney soon discovers the cause of the hellish night noises and mysterious going-ons with the help of a v

Forevability: Providing and Sustaining Support

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Forever. A notion that suggests everlasting, enduring conditions or effects. But haven't we been told that nothing is forever? Be that as it may, the good folk at Forevability ably headed by Tabitha Page believe that sustaining hope for those whose forever-afters may appear more bleak than others is something worth pursuing.  Their mission is to: support, understand, empower and teach by offering people with various health conditions, disabilities and mental disorders a veritable library of hope beautifully encased in a huge (and growing) collection of children's books. The titles range from picture books, early readers, middle grade fiction and young adult fiction. There are even a few cross over 18+ selections. Each genre is subdivided into subject areas that address certain conditions: mental health, disabilities, own voice, grief, medical procedures, anxiety and so on. The titles are carefully curated to match the subject area and offer visitors an amazing cross section of

Review: The Goldfish Boy

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Twelve-year-old Matthew Corbin is your regular pre-teen boy living in an unspectacular cul-de-sac deep in British suburbia. The major difference between him and the other inhabitants of Chestnut Close however is the state of his red-raw hands and tortured mind and the fact that he barely steps outside his terraced-home second story bedroom. Matthew is afflicted with severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, OCD and can barely function as a result. From his fishbowl vantage point, Matthew keeps track of his neighbours, dutifully recording their every movement, their comings and goings, and their habitual rituals in his notebooks. In this way we are introduced to the residents and their characteristic irks and quirks from the get go in a way that is both intriguing and comical. Matthew’s observations allude to his condition; he is both analytical and detailed in his approach. The orderliness of his notations suggest a mind used to repetition and accuracy, an intense desire to ‘get things r