By TRACEY ROXBURGH
A new book aimed at helping address anxiety and identify stress in kids has been a labour of love for its Queenstown author.
Commercial illustrator Laura Shallcrass released Hare & Ruru, A Quiet Moment last month with Beatnik Publishing after almost a decade working on it.
Hare — a gender-neutral hare — struggles with ‘‘noise’’ so goes on a journey to try to find some relief and on the way encounters Ruru, who flies
calmly down and provides some suggestions.
Shallcrass says the idea first started percolating after the Canterbury earthquakes, in 2011, but she’s been wanting to write a kids’ book for years.
‘‘Since I left university I’ve been turning over the idea of what I’d write
‘‘I’m not really good at humour, that’s not really my forte, so I wanted to do something that’s about a thing that was close to my heart — mental health is something that came up for me and … just after the Christchurch earthquakes I had a newborn baby and living in Queenstown we saw lots of people moving [here] because of how hard it was … on the kids and all the families.
‘‘I started thinking about a story that was basically about mindfulness for kids, which could help them with these anxious feelings.’’
While the idea was churning for the first five or six years, it’s taken about four years of ‘‘constant work’’ to get the finished product — which she also illustrated — on the shelves.
Shallcrass says Hare’s gender-neutral because she wants all kids to be able to relate to it, and choosing a hare enabled her to use its large ears metaphorically.
‘‘The general story is that Hare has all these anxious feelings or thoughts that are hard to process so Hare goes on a journey to try and find some relief … [and] finds some quiet by talking to someone, and by focusing on breathing and by connecting with nature.’’
There’s also a page of teaching notes at the back of the book to help kids process the themes and ideas and give them some breathing exercises.
The timing of its release is impeccable, given the trickle-down effects of Covid-19 on children.
‘‘Most people I talk to can’t believe I didn’t write this in lockdown as a response to Covid.
‘‘The timing is very apt, but this has been a much longer process.’’
Thanks to Central Lakes Trust funding an English and Maori version of the book’s going in to every school and library in the district, while it’s available to buy locally for $30, at Queenstown Airport’s Kapa store and in Wanaka, and nationally through Whitcoulls.
Shallcrass says it’s also available, with free local delivery, from her website,