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Children's Fiction Depression & Mental Illness

Dark Cloud

by (author) Anna Lazowski

illustrated by Penny Neville-Lee

Kids Can Press
Initial publish date
May 2023
Depression & Mental Illness, Emotions & Feelings, New Experience
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 2023
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 4 to 8
  • Grade: p to 3
  • Reading age: 4 to 8


Written with compassion and care, a thoughtful story about a little girl who visualizes her depression as a way of learning to cope.

Abigail has a dark cloud. It follows her everywhere. It can be a ball of worries, a swirl of fog or a long shadow. But it's always with her, getting in the way of things. Her dark cloud makes the other children distant and messes with her grand jeté during ballet class. It even takes away her appetite for birthday cake. Then one day, Abigail begins to figure some things out about her dark cloud. Like how it's not always the same size. How she can trap it in a sandcastle at the beach. And how, sometimes, she can even step away from it and feel the sunshine on her skin.

In this sensitive picture book, symbolic imagery perfectly captures how depression can look and feel. Anna Lazowski's lyrical text together with Penny Neville-Lee's expressive drawings provide young children with a way to understand and talk about their own feelings. The repetition in the text and the visual narrative pull readers in, making this an excellent read-aloud pick to spark discussions about feelings. Neville-Lee's art uses soft, muted colors, with lightness and color gradually added as Abigail moves from feeling overwhelmed by her depression to learning how to live with it and even find relief from it. Reviewed by a child psychologist, this book is a great choice for teaching social-emotional learning, critical thinking and character education lessons on perseverance and resilience.

About the authors

Anna Lazowski wrote her first picture book for a class assignment in the sixth grade and has been creating stories ever since. Now an award-winning radio producer whose journalistic work has been published in various newspapers and magazines, Anna is also the author of T. Rexes Can't Tie Their Shoes. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, with her husband, kids and dogs.

Anna Lazowski's profile page

Penny Neville-Lee spent her earliest years drawing and making before studying for an MA in Painting at the Royal College of Art. She is happiest when surrounded by pencils, chatting to her two children and coming up with ideas for beautiful books. She lives with her family in Manchester, United Kingdom.

Penny Neville-Lee's profile page

Other titles by Anna Lazowski