Out of a Dark Winter’s Night

Thames & Hudson. Feb. 2020. 40p. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780500651957.
Gr 1-3–In a departure from her typical sunny cartoons, McDonnell addresses depression and anxiety in murky tones and washes. The frugal text juxtaposes days of light and adventure with times of disappointment, struggle, and uncertainty. A youngster who frolics naked under the rainbow becomes a wanderer through black rainstorms and chilling indigo nights with lurking monsters. Hope finally arrives in the form of a shadowy elephant carrying a lantern, who leads the heroine to a sunny seaside home. Some text is challenging to read with the darker palettes.
VERDICT Although McDonnell makes a noble effort to encourage stamina as well as assist understanding of mental health challenges, the concepts in this abstract presentation may not be absorbed by its intended audience.

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