Danny is a bear who was born under a blue cloud. Sometimes it’s a storm cloud, sometimes it’s as big as the sky, and it makes Danny cry, feel bad about himself, and not want to talk to or play with the other animals in the forest. But Barnaby the rabbit wants to help Danny to cope with his cloud, so Barnaby teaches him some “Feel-Good Rules” to turn his cloud into a joyful rainbow. Danny discovers what he is good at, starts to feel better, and gains recognition for his talents.
To adults, the blue cloud may seem like a simplistic metaphor, but Danny’s cloud can be an effective way of explaining depression to young kids. They may not understand about brain chemistry, but they understand feeling like there’s a storm cloud over their head. Kids may not have heard of cognitive-behavioral therapy, but Barnaby’s Feel-Good Rules will make sense to them.
The author James M. Foley is a licensed psychologist, experienced in treating children. So his stand-in in the story, Barnaby, knows what he’s talking about. Indeed, the ideas in the book could benefit adults as much as children. The book breaks down psychological concepts in ways that are easy for children to understand: think about what you can do, not what you can’t do; dance even when you don’t want to dance; think about good things even if it’s easier to think bad things. In the back of the book, there is a section for parents that discusses the concepts in the book in greater detail, so they can understand what their child is going through and how the book will help.
Danny and the Blue Cloud could be an invaluable resource for children who are coping with depression or know someone who is, and perhaps it could help the adults who read it with them develop some more compassion and understanding, as well.
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