A couple of years ago, I read Probably Nothing by Matilda Tristram – a picture book that depicted a woman’s battle with cancer.
It stayed with me because it was so different and it was such a unique way of talking about such a difficult topic.
So when Hot Key Books sent me Night Shift by Debi Gliori, I was really interested to see how the author had managed to depict depression through her illustrations.
The book is really short and the plot is very simple – so simple in fact that you wouldn’t think the book was about such a complex issue.
The author uses dragons to portray depression in her illustrations – an entirely new take on the black dog and one which demonstrates the suffocating and debilitating effects of the illness in an extremely powerful way.
With only one line of text on each page, the book could easily be mistaken for a children’s story due to its simplicity but the ravaging effect of mental illness is apparent on every page.
Gliori uses the dragon in multiple ways – to describe how she’s suffocating under its weight or being smothered by its smoke. As it dominates her life, we see her small figure becoming a play thing to the dragons and little more.
Gliori says, ‘In Night Shift, I didn’t want the ending to be a big reveal. I wanted a quiet moment of shift.’
This works perfectly within the context of the book – there is no magic in the world that can suddenly make everything better, more a small glimmer of hope shining in the darkness.
My review: 5/5 – a gem of a book which gives a fascinating insight into depression.