A Welsh mum of two has turned multiple personal tragedies from before and during the pandemic into a children’s book aimed at unpacking ‘big issues for little people’.
Jess Childs’ debut picture book ‘Ivy and the Rock’ looks at what it means to love and lose in an honest yet child friendly way, through the adventures of little Ivy Jones in the Wildest Wood.
It is the first in a series of children’s titles the author has developed with the ‘big issues for little people’ concept in mind, taking in real life themes including depression, self-esteem and more.
Published by Olympia, Ivy and the Rock and its vibrant illustrations focus on what losing something or someone might mean for those left behind, looking not at death itself but the important themes of recovery, acceptance, and re-growth.
Developed from a poem Jess originally wrote and recited at her farmer father’s funeral after he took his own life in 2006, the book took on a new poignancy in 2020 when she also lost her mother Olwen to a five-year battle with cancer last November; her deterioration accelerated due to treatment delays caused by the Covid pandemic.
Other family bereavements also experienced before and during the pandemic have meant that Jess, who grew up near Hay on Wye but now lives near Cardiff, knows all-too-well what it means to make sense of loss, and is now helping her two daughters, aged 3 and 5, to understand it too.
Jess said: “Life deals us all some pretty challenging cards at times, and when we lost dad in 2006 – when I was still an adolescent myself – I was forced on a tough but important journey which over time led to acceptance, understanding, and ultimately personal growth.
“More recently we had to say goodbye to our beloved mum, but this time I find myself with the added challenge of supporting my two young girls to process this huge loss as well.”
“Add to this the fact that we are living in a pandemic with a tragic death toll, overwhelming media coverage and a barrage of public health messages, and you can’t help but worry about the effect it is having on anxiety among children.”
“Although the book was developed before the pandemic, to my mind there has never been a greater need for age-appropriate explanations of love and the acceptance of loss in our lives,” Jess added.
“Through her adventure in the Wildest Wood, Ivy does just that. It’s a thought-provoking but uplifting tale of adventure and self-discovery, created to help our tiniest minds make sense of life’s greatest inevitability.”
With a further two Ivy adventures already written, Jess has also launched a website which she hopes will help in developing the series further and help families affected by bereavement and other real-life issues with the provision of downloadable resources, among other things.
More information on how to buy Ivy And The Rock and a range of free resources for children can be found at www.bigissuesforlittlepeople.co.uk