Updated: Sep 21, 2022
Title: The Bravest Word
Author: Kate Foster
Publisher: Walker Books Australia
Publication Date: 3rd May 2022
For ages: 8-12
This story follows 11 year old Matt whose life looks pretty great from the outside - he is busy with school and football, and has a loving family and a group of close friends. But Matt is having bad days and isn't sure what's going on or how to talk about it. He says to himself, "I don't think I can talk to Dad. I'm worried about how he'll react if he knows the things going on in my head, and then he too will be ashamed of me, like Mum. If she is. It's so hard to tell with her."
And so he struggles on silently. He loses interest in activities and friends, cries a lot and just wants to sleep.
Then he and Dad find an abandoned dog and suddenly Matt has an important new focus - the little dog is anxious and depressed and Matt needs to make him feel loved and safe. Matt takes a tentative step towards sharing his feelings by anonymously blogging online about both the dog and himself. By the time he does speak to Dad, he is blown away by the support he gets from everyone both online and in person.
This book is so important for anyone struggling with mental health, but especially for children 8+ who might not know how to recognise a problem or how to ask for help. It deals gently and honestly with the reality of handling confusing feelings, and is so positive about the support available as well as the crucial knowledge that you are not alone.
Reviewed by Kylie Grant