Do we ever think of using a book to heal when we buy books? But, when I read Darkless I felt that not only is it a great book for a regular read, but it adds to the list of deep and beautifully crafted books that could come under the banner of bibliotherapy for children.
Darkless by Tanu Shree Singh, illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat, and published by Puffin books may be a thin book, but packs in a lot.
One of the first ways of dealing with pain and loss is acknowledging it. While we have several books on how to cope with pain for adults, children’s literature is not exactly filled with books that help a child cope with negative situations in life. Darkless comes like a soft ray of hope, in a world where there is an increasing need to help children face harsh realities of life, with grace and positivity.
Darkless is a beautifully illustrated picture book that tells the story of a child whose mother is undergoing a treatment for an illness, hinted at being cancer. While his mother is away for her treatment, he faces a kind of darkness all around him, despite it otherwise being bright and lively, and despite friends and family trying to cheer him up.
I love the gentle and subtle manner in which the book paints the picture of the mental state of a child who is undergoing emotional pain due to a negative event in his life. There is an acceptance and acknowledgment of the feeling. There is also a ray of hope towards the end, and I am glad that the book ends on a positive note.
This is not to say that the book is to be read only if a child has faced a sad situation. It is a book meant for every child as it helps recognise the feeling that there are days when things don’t seem alright and one may experience an overarching feeling of sadness, but, there is always a ray of hope that life provides!
I think this is clearly a picture book that has been written with a lot of sensitivity and complete honesty. Great picture books have a seamless and smooth coordination between the pictures and the text, and Darkless definitely fits into this category! The illustrations bring out the essence as much as the words. It’s a wonderful collaboration indeed!
We think that picture books are meant for young children, but I have always begged to differ. Some timeless picture books work beautifully for older kids, young adults and adults as well. Ditto with Darkless. You may read it to a three-year-old and also to a ten-year-old (or older!) and it will add value to both.
A little verse that I made up, on reading the book….
Sometimes dark clouds gather
In midst of little minds, devoid of light
It takes but a gentle book
To be the candle in the night
This is a book that is a must have in your personal book collection and school library, and I would love to see it on shelves of counselling centres as well, where it could be used for bibliotherapy with children.