by Kate Lum
"Can I Catch it Like A Cold" is an excellent
resource for children ages 5-9 who have a depressed parent.
In Kelbaugh's satisfying narrative, a twelve-year-old
girl, Anna, tells a younger boy, Alex, about this disease,
which afflicts each of their parents. With help from Anna,
and eventually from professionals, Alex is empowered to deal
with his own feelings.
In clear, simple language, Kelbaugh describes depression
and its effects: "Depression changes the way he thinks
about himself." There is optimism: "When he gets
better, he won't think that everything is bad... " but
also, realism: "She would get better and then get sick
Most importantly, the text emphasizes that the child is
not to blame for the parent's illness: "The most
important thing I learned was that it was not my fault."
Nault's warm illustrations tenderly depict Alex and
Anna's growing friendship, their parents' pain,
and their personal triumphs on the soccer field. Anna is
African- American, Alex, Caucasian, and his school counselor,
Asian, underscoring the reality that depression affects people
of all racial and ethnic backgrounds, and that people of
all backgrounds can form an effective team against it.
"Can I Catch It Like a Cold" is the first in
a series of books for young readers published by CAMH (Centre
for Addictions and Mental Health) in Toronto.