I have been anticipating this book since I first heard about it (it featured in my Exciting Upcoming Picture Book Releases the minute I hea...

A Shelter for Sadness Blog Tour

Wednesday, January 27, 2021 BookBairn 1 Comments

I have been anticipating this book since I first heard about it (it featured in my Exciting Upcoming Picture Book Releases the minute I heard about it's released date). Before I had even set eyes on it in real life I knew that this would be a powerful and evocative book that would support children with difficult emotions. So when I was asked to join the blog tour, I immediately said yes despite the fact that I told myself I was not doing any blog tours this year. What I'm trying to say by that is that it takes an exceptional book to make me change my mind. And this is an exceptional book!

I think, more so than ever, we need to find ways to support our children with their mental health and with dealing with the "big emotions" but we also have to accept that one of the ways we deal with our emotions is not by dismissing them or trying to conquer them but in a more quiet way by accepting that they are there and giving them space to breathe. Inspired by a quotation from Holocaust victim, Etty Hillesum (I'll insert that quotation at the end), Anne Booth has created a story that sensitively personifies sadness showing them that it is not a feeling to be feared, hidden or denied. Instead you need to give it a shelter of it's own.


A small boy creates a shelter for his sadness, a safe space where Sadness is welcome, where it can curl up small or be as big as it can be, where it can be noisy or quiet, or anything in between. (In fact, for me it reminds me of how I care for my children - giving them space to grow, or lie down or curl up small or the opportunity to be very very loud, or very very quiet - always following their lead; I don't, however, make them live in an outdoor shelter or build them bonfires and leave them unsupervised - just to be clear!) The boy can visit the shelter whenever he needs to, every day, every hour, or hardly at all. And Sadness and the boy sometimes will talk, or cry or just sit saying nothing. The boy knows that some days Sadness may come out the shelter, and together they will look out at the world and see how beautiful it is. Or that sometime he will be too busy to visit Sadness but that's ok too as he's built it a good shelter and it's safe inside there. And together they can navigate through the world holding each others' hands.

A Shelter for Sadness is a perfectly pitched picture book to help children explore the importance of making space and time for their own sadness, when they need to, and is especially poignant in the current climate of uncertainty and loss. 

With striking illustrations that are deeply evocative and rich as well as being laced with a playfulness and tenderness, David Litchfield has brought to life a Sadness that we can relate to, where we can see that Sadness is part of being human and that it can exist alongside the happiness and beauty in the world without taking up all the space and blotting out all the colour. Even if Sadness is the biggest thing in your life and requires all your focus and attention, the illustrations show that beauty and colour still exist in the world when we are ready and able to look for it outside the shelter. I also love the very subtle changing of seasons in the artwork as your turn through the pages of the book, which is a gentle reminder to children (and adults) that Sadness is with us through all seasons and does not disappear with changing weather and that that is ok.

I have long adored David's artwork and I was delighted that as part of the blog tour he agreed to let us seen inside his sketchbook for A Shelter for Sadness. It's fascinating seeing how a book comes to life and I love some of this artwork that otherwise would have been left inside a closed notebook. Thank you so much for sharing and if you want to see more of the blog tour check out the banner below.

As the importance of good mental health, empathy, and kindness  are being highlighted like never before, especially for children, this book will help them develop those skills and support them in becoming emotionally literate with the skills to cope with difficult feelings and approach others with gentleness and understanding. It's a very powerful book.

I said I would share the quotation by Ester 'Etty" Hillesum (15 Jan 1914 - 30 Nov 1943) and it feels poignant to close with it:

'Give your sorrow all the space and shelter in yourself that is its due, for if everyone bears grief honestly and courageously, the sorrow that now fills the world will abate. But if you do instead reserve most of the space inside you for hatred and thoughts of revenge - from which new sorrows will be born for others - then sorrow will never cease in the world. And if you have given sorrow the space it demands, the you may truly say: life is beautiful and so rich.'

Hope that this book might bring you comfort and support if you need it, and start important conversations in your home,

Kim and the bairns xx

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1 comment:

  1. The artwork in this book looks fantastic. It was fabulous to see inside the artist’s sketchbook and how his work was developed.