During this Mental Health Awareness Week, ThunderStone Books is pleased to announce one of our most recent projects: Meh, a wordless picture book about depression, created by illustrator Deborah Malcolm. To introduce Meh, Deborah has written about what inspired her to create a picture book about depression in the first place.
DEBORAH: It was the summer before my 4th year at university that the initial ideas behind Meh began to emerge. I had always wanted to create a picture book, and felt my honours project was the best opportunity for me to do so. In terms of the subject matter, however, I hadn’t figured out what would be a suitable area of research. That was until I attended an event at The Edinburgh International Book Festival, where I saw my favourite author, Neil Gaiman, do a presentation on some of his literature. Neil spoke of how he disliked conventional stories that have predictable outcomes. He would rather something more believable, not sugar coated. At that moment, I knew I wanted to create a picture book that was meaningful yet not widely explored in this medium.
The reason I chose to explore conveying depression through a picture book was due to a few reasons. Firstly, I have personal experience with the illness, and had often wondered how I could show how it feels through imagery alone so that others may understand it better. Secondly, after extensive research, I found it very difficult to find more than 4 picture books that used depression as a subject matter, and felt that it was important for children to know of this debilitating illness for their future wellbeing.
Mental illness is receiving a lot more media coverage right now, both positive and negative. It is a difficult subject to talk about, and can be complex for a sufferer to describe. Meh was designed to be completely wordless so that the reader can come to their own conclusion of what they think depression is. It is different for everyone. It is also a tool for parents, guardians and teachers to use to teach children about mental health. I hope it will engage them in discussion about mental illnesses so that they might have a better chance of tackling them in the future and reduce the stigma surrounding it.
Stay tuned for more news about Meh leading up to the book’s publication in August. To keep up to date on information from ThunderStone Books, subscribe to our newsletter!