Review: Keep Calm by Dr Sharie Coombes, illustrated by Katie Abey and Ellie O’Shea

Illustrations by Katie Abey and Ellie O’Shea, published by Studio Press Books

This is a fantastic activity book overflowing with great advice for young people to help them deal with the worries and anxieties which may have arisen during the COVID-19 crisis. It has been written by Dr Sharie Coombes who is a child and family psychotherapist and I love the reassuring tone that she sets for her young readers. She does not talk down to her audience but provides child-friendly explanations to help young people understand the way the body reacts to stress. For example, she tells us about the amygdala in the ancient limbic system of the brain and how its function is to warn us about anything which could become a problem, but calls the amygdala Bob, a loving but slightly daft guard dog. The lovable illustration of Bob is then used throughout the book to explain how the activities can help to calm Bob and stop him barking unnecessarily. 

The activities themselves can all be added very simply into daily routines and include mindful breathing, colouring, craft and artwork, reframing thoughts from negative to positive, spending time outdoors and even some basic yoga poses. The friendly doodle-style illustrations help add to the cheerful, mood-boosting tone of the book. I would say that all the activities are suitable for children of 8+. At the end of the book there is advice for parents carers and guardians, including contact details for a number of support services. This would be suitable for classroom or home use.

Overall, I would recommend this slim volume as a great addition to your collection for helping children who may be experiencing some negative impact on their mental health following the strange times we have all lived through in 2020 and 2021. I have been actively searching for books to add to a children’s mental health collection and I am happy that Keep Calm is now on my list.

I am most grateful to Toppsta and Studio Press Books for sending me a review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

5 thoughts on “Review: Keep Calm by Dr Sharie Coombes, illustrated by Katie Abey and Ellie O’Shea

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