Happy Pants by Heather Gallagher, illustrated by Liz McGrath (Wombat Books)
HB RRP $22.99
Reviewed by Peta Biggin
When Mummy wears her happy pants we build sandcastles, go out for babycinos and have lots and lots of cuddles. But when she comes home with baby Darcy, her happy pants stay in her wardrobe.
Happy Pants is a lovely story about a young child struggling to understand his mother’s post-natal depression. He first notices the problem after his mum stops wearing her “happy pants”.
‘Mummy’s a bit blue,’ says Daddy.
I love red – fire engines, racing cars and toffee apples.
But a person can’t be a colour…can they?
Some days, Mummy stays in bed, sleeping all day.
‘Mummy, let’s cuddle,’ I say.
But she lies as still as the statue in the park.
The reader is taken through the young boy’s attempts to understand the change in his mum. It is a gentle journey from his observations of her changed behaviour to being babysat by Nanna while Mum goes to the doctor. Despite the book ending on a positive note, it’s made clear that the problem will take time to be resolved.
‘Did the doctor make you better Mummy?’
‘Not quite, my love,’ she says.
‘You’ll need to be patient with me…but I will get better, I promise.’
Liz McGrath’s illustrations are big and colourful. With many full-page pictures, they provide a bright, beautiful backdrop throughout the book.
Happy Pants is a lovely, heartfelt book that provides insight into a painful and confusing situation that many children find themselves in. It is a beautiful book on its own or would be a great way to begin necessary conversation on a condition that deserves greater attention.
Heather Gallagher wrote Happy Pants based on her own experience with post-natal depression. It is her second book; her first, Ferret on the Loose, was published in 2013. She lives by the seaside with her husband and two daughters. When she’s not writing she works in community development at a church. She can be found online at: http://heathergallagher.com.au
Liz McGrath is a freelance illustrator that specialises in projects that deliver health and community messages to parents and children. She runs arts projects at a special school in Geelong and, since 2013, has been working on a number of projects through the Bluebird Foundation. She can be found online at: http://www.lizmcgrath.com.au