A Book Review of The Princess and the Fog
Many kids are not in school, so they are missing out on live social contacts with peers and supportive teachers. They have often been restricted from seeing grandparents and other significant family members and have been spending more time in the house and without many outlets of sports or community activities. Many may have sustained significant loss due to the death or long-term hospitalization of a family member due to Covid. Additionally, children often mirror the feelings of their parents (no pressure here!). Parents may be moody and irritable due to their balancing of responsibilities of teaching their kids while working from home, lack of social contact and family support. There also has been much political upheaval recently and in the past year(s) that affects parents, and in turn, affects their children.
Depression can be triggered in children as an understandable response to disruption in their relationships and routines. Short periods of sadness in response to difficult situations are common. However, if the depression lasts for longer periods of time and becomes severe, it is important to seek help for the child. Depression runs in families and can also come on for no apparent reason and become quite severe.
Through the text and brilliant illustrations in his book, The Princess and the Fog, Lloyd Jones approaches this tough topic in an enjoyable and child-friendly manner. He lightens up the mood with many humorous illustrations. The "fog" and "black clouds" are used as metaphors for depression, which is tangible and easier for children to understand.
The book covers symptoms of depression, such as:
-slow(low energy), tired
-trouble concentrating or doing the simplest things
-anhedonia, which is the loss of interest in the things a person loves to do
In addition to the symptoms addressed in the book, other symptoms of depression in children include:
-changes in appetite and/or sleep
-physical complaints, such as stomachaches and headaches.
Many coping mechanisms are also presented in the book, which include:
-Talking to others
-Setting daily challenges
-doing things that make you happy
-possible medication -in severe cases
The most important coping strategy prevalent throughout the book is the accessing of your support system, or as I call them, The Crown Jewels of Your Kingdom.
This book is appropriate for children ages 4-9 who are suffering from short periods of sadness or a more long-term issue with depression. The content would be helpful for kids who have a family member who experiences depression as a way to gain insight. The Princess and the Fog is also appropriate for all children to learn and recognize the signs and how to cope as "the fog" might enter their kingdom at some point. It provides insights for parents into the symptoms of depression in children and how to help them cope. Additionally, there is a guide for parents at the end of the book written by a psychologist with helpful information.
This book is available for purchase on Amazon here. I have provided a related activity idea below to help children further explore this issue.
Activity Idea for The Princess and the Fog
After reading the book, discuss the symptoms of depression and inquire whether the child has ever felt that way. Talk about sad times they may have had in the past or present. Discuss what the princess did to feel better and who helped her. Name the support people or crown jewels in the princess' life.
In this month's activity, we are going to explore THE CROWN JEWELS OF OUR KINGDOM. What do I mean by crown jewels? Crown jewels are those very special people in your life(or kingdom) that you know you can depend on. The people who are there for you when you need something. They are people that will listen when you talk to them and take what you say seriously. Who are the crown jewels of your kingdom?
For the project today, we are going to make a crown with the jewels from our own kingdom!
-Crown template - click here to access
-cardstock or heavier paper
-small pictures of support people-if available (optional)
-glue (I mostly used silicone glue for faster and stronger hold)
-jewels, buttons or stickers
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