My Daddy is Different by Suzi Faed

MY DADDY IS DIFFERENT

by Suzi Faed

Illustrations by Lisa Coutts

Publisher: Empowering Resources 2019

ISBN: 9781925592184

Ages 5+

This book follows the story of an unnamed young boy whose Father’s emotional state and availability changes due to an unspecified mental illness. Although it is not a light-hearted story, or topic, the book ends on a positive note. The boy’s emotional journey is the focus of the story. The boy moves from a positive and connected relationship with his Father, (who initially makes “wonderful things” for him and smiles warmly), into a disconnected and confusing one as his Father’s withdrawal into illness begins to affect their lives. The boy eventually moves back to a state connectedness with his Father, after his Father is helped by a stay in hospital.  Finally the boy accepts that although his Father is “different”, he is still a loving and caring parent. A brief meeting in the hospital with another child allows the boy to see that he is not the only child who has a parent with a mental illness.  

The simplicity of the prose allows the focus to be on the inner experiences of the child. This is further highlighted by the change in font on key words and phrases such as “Remember, I still love you. That will never change.” The background colours of each page reflect the boy’s journey, changing from yellow to blue/grey to pink as the story develops.

The illustrations are simple colourful sketches with a soft pastel effect.  The character’s emotions are represented by simple smiles and frowns and provide a good talking point for parents and children as they reflect upon what the boy is feeling.  This book does not shy away from the fact that a child’s life is greatly affected by having a parent with a mental illness, however it outlines this in very general terms. This gives the adult reader plenty of scope to use this book as a platform for discussing the personal experience of any child to whom they may be reading.

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