‘Swan Song,’ by Gill Lewis.

As all children look set to returning to school over the coming days, I know that emotional wellbeing will be a key concern for many. With lots of pupils having felt very isolated over the past few months, anxiety about returning to school or even being in large groups of people may be looming large.

Books and sharing stories are key parts of the puzzle when thinking about how to encourage children to share their concerns and empathise with others. Spending plenty of time playing and learning outside are also vital.

In her new book for the dyslexia-friendly publisher Barrington Stoke, Gill Lewis gently explores themes of anxiety, depression and the healing power of nature.

Dylan is struggling. Since he started high school, everything has become too much to handle. Now he’s been expelled and is forced to move to the tiny village in Wales where his grandad lives. But when Grandad invites Dylan out on his boat to watch the Whooper swans return to their winter feeding ground, things begin to change. Grandad doesn’t judge or question; he just lets Dylan be. Out on the water, with no distractions or pressure, Dylan begins to feel like himself again. But when the swans and their home are threatened, and tragedy strikes at home, can Dylan keep going when it feels like everything is slipping out of control again?

This is a sensitive and tightly written read which explores how Dylan’s behaviour at school was masking deep feelings of anxiety. Gill seamlessly interweaves a story about finding peace in nature with a rallying call for societies to protect their local habitats for the animals who thrive in them.

An insightful read for anyone aged 8+ about mental health in young teens and the healing power of the great outdoors.

Library Girl.

*Many thanks to Barrington Stoke for sending me this title to review*

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