Your Mind is Like the Sky by Bronwen Ballard is an enchanting exploration into mindfulness for children, beautifully symbolised through the sky and weather.
What might seem a common metaphor - bright, sunny skies reflect happiness versus dark, stormy skies and rain clouds reflecting negative emotions of sadness, overload and distress - is, in this instance, a really effective one.
Gentle in her approach, Ballard engages directly with her young readers through the emphasises on the determiner 'your' and in doing so communicates a heartfelt understanding that thoughts like these are okay and in fact, normal.
Within the narrative, Ballard introduces a simple yet thoughtful technique, that when troubled with a 'raincloud thought' to acknowledge it and to then focus your attention to the 'white fluffy cloud thoughts' instead and to allow the 'raincloud thoughts' to float gently away. Suggesting that by releasing these 'raincloud thoughts' and allowing your mind to be clear and open, you'll be better able to understand each thought and put it into perspective.
For a child's first book of mindfulness it's a beautifully effective and valuable one. The 'notes for grown-up readers' at the back of the book, including tips on mindfulness and extra resources are essential for developing an open and honest communication between adult and child.
Laura Carlin's whimsical illustrations perfectly counterpart Ballard's narrative. Carlin's sketches, created seemingly in the manner of a child's drawing, really gives a raw and unique feel to the book. When inside the raincloud, Carlin's spread offers a magnitude of items and details in harsh and distinct black and grey tones, which in turn really solidifies those feelings of overwhelming negativity. Yet towards the end we're greeted with an extraordinarily vibrant and lively spread full of colour and imagination.
I also really appreciated Carlin's nod to the black dog - a phrase popularised by Winston Churchill to describe the bouts of depression he experienced for much of his life.