YA – Mental Health Crisis (Series NF)

Mental Health Crisis. Reference Point Press, 2023. 64 p. $33.05 ea. $132.20 Set of 4. Grades 7-12. 

Castillo, Kristina C. Anxiety and Depression on the Rise. 978-1-678-20274-3. 274-6.
Mooney, Carla. Drug Overdoses on the Rise. 978-1-678-20276-7. 276-2.
Nardo, Don. Eating Disorders on the Rise. 978-1-678-20278-1. 278-1.
Steffens, Bradley. Teen Suicide on the Rise. 978-1-678-20280-4. 280-4.

Note: This review is for the titles Eating Disorders and Teen Suicide. This series seeks to shed light on how mental health issues among teens have increased since the pandemic and relate ways to help teenagers facing these issues. Eating Disorders on the Rise first identifies ‘the big three’ eating disorders as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating. It also describes less common disorders such as orthorexia (‘clean’ or ‘pure’ eating) and avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder. A chapter is devoted to how the social isolation of the pandemic led to increased levels of eating disorders and clarifies problems faced by men and the LGBTQ+ community. Distorted body image, trying to excel in sports, and social media pressure are factors known to harm teenagers. Treatment aids offered include hospitalization and residential care, medication, counseling, and various types of therapy, and all are respected, since eating disorders often persist for a lifetime. Teen Suicide on the Rise shines a spotlight on social media as a risk factor for teen girls, the impact of the pandemic on teen mental health, and LGBTQ+ teens at risk. A chapter is devoted to the impact of suicide on survivors (grief, regret, guilt, and suicidal tendencies) and a final chapter offers treatment options. The stories shared are compelling and the advice to all who work with youth is “talk about suicide and let young people know you care.” A new tool, the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS) aka the Columbia Protocol, is under study and appears to identify needs well. Various apps are mentioned as useful for teens, such as the Virtual Hope Box, notOK, and BetterHelp.

THOUGHTS: The books in this series will help teens to understand these issues and gain help for themselves or friends when needed.

155.4 Child Psychology
362.29 Substance Abuse
616.85 Mental Disorders
362.28 Suicide

MG – Mixed Up

Korman, Gordon. Mixed Up. Scholastic Press, 2023. 978-1-338-82672-2. 256 p. $17.99. Grades 4-8.

Reef Moody has a lot to deal with. Not only is he still grieving the death of his mother, but he is also adjusting to a new house and a new family. Jen, his mother’s best friend, took him in after his mom’s death since he had nowhere else to go. Unfortunately, Jen’s son Declan is making his life a living nightmare. On top of that, Reef has been forgetting important memories of his mother which is particularly devastating. In their place are different memories, memories he doesn’t remember making. Across town, Theo Metzinger is having the same problem. His memory has been failing him lately. Theo cannot remember how to take care of the plants in his beloved garden. Some days, he has trouble finding his way home from school. Instead of his own memories, Theo keeps seeing memories of someone’s mother in a hospital bed. Reef and Theo meet each other one day after Reef sees the cupola of Theo’s school on TV. Reef has never been to that school, but he recognizes the cupola from his memories. They quickly realize they have been swapping memories with each other. The boys discover they were born on the same day at the same hospital, and that could be the key to why this phenomena is happening to them. Together they embark on a scientific adventure to regain their memories and stop the swap.

THOUGHTS: This is the first book I’ve read where a main character is grieving the loss of a parent to COVID-19, making it timely and relatable as many students are still reeling from the pandemic. The characters are likable and realistic; readers will be rooting for them. Like many of Korman’s books, the chapters are told in alternating points of view between Reef and Theo. This is a must-buy for middle grade libraries.


Elem. – Outside, Inside

Pham, LeUyen. Outside, Inside. Roaring Books Press, 2021. 978-1-250-79835-0. 48 p. $18.99. Grades Pre-K-2. 

Capturing community, perseverance, and hope, Outside, Inside by Caldecott Honor winner LeUyen Pham is a moving testimony that depicts the global Covid-19 pandemic. With encouraging words, poetic language, and gorgeous illustrations, this picture book will help young children make sense of the virus that altered their daily lives. The story begins on an unremarkable day just before the season changes. All races and ethnicities are bustling around outside when suddenly everything changes, and everyone goes inside. The outside is quieter, different, even wilder, and the inside holds laughter, tears, and growth. While the world changed outside, the people on the inside become resilient and hopeful. As the story moves forward, the author does not shy away from heartbreaking loss or skip over the unexpected good. Instead, she gently explains that we moved from the outside to the inside to protect the ones we love. Pham never downplays the seriousness of the pandemic and illustrates vivid scenes that represent upended routines, hospital stays, job loss, and even death. Yet, she also lovingly depicts loved ones on the outside protecting those that are inside. Finally, the picture book ends with a season change as hope and love blooms in the air.

THOUGHTS: Outside, Inside’s dedication is to all essential workers, first responders, and communities across the globe. It is true that author LeUyen Pham masterfully captures how all of us felt on the outside and inside as we navigated Covid-19. I believe her author’s note at the end of the picture book is just as important as the story itself. Nearly every face painted in the book is inspired by a REAL person- people who survived or succumbed to the awful virus. She also shares that the most challenging spread to illustrate was the one that explained why we sacrificed what we did because each character shown on the page gave her “both joy and pain.” In her final words, Pham notes that Outside, Inside is “a time capsule of our moment in history when the world came together as one to do the right thing.”

Picture Book          Marie Mengel, Reading SD

Elem. – Pandemics and COVID-19 (Series NF)

Pandemics and COVID-19. The Child’s World. 2021. $19.95 ea. $119.17 set of 6. Gr. 2-5.

Dolbear, Emily. How Can I Help During COVID-19? 978-1-503-85277-8.
—. What If I’m Worried About COVID-19? 978-1-503-85318-8.
Latta, Sara. What is COVID-19? 978-1-503-85276-1.
—. Who are the COVID-19 Helpers? 978-1-503-85315-7.
Laughlin, Kara L. How Has COVID-19 Changed Our World? 978-1-503-85317-1.
—. What Is a Pandemic? 978-1-503-85316-4.

The Pandemics and COVID-19 series is a kid-friendly guide for younger readers and caregivers to explain some of the issues going on in the world with COVID-19. This series provides readers with some information on items they may not be sure about, such as what a pandemic actually is and how/why is COVID-19 different from other diseases. This series provides information that is explained in a kid-friendly way, providing up-to-date information. The series also includes some ways that readers can help out during the pandemic, as well as providing a “Good News!” section that can help keep hopes up and a positive outlook toward the future.

THOUGHTS: This series provides good information on pandemics and COVID-19. The information includes colorful photographs and captions that increase the understanding of the text. The series also includes places to find more information on questions that students may have. Pandemics and COVID-19 is a great series for those who want to help by explaining information to their students/readers, but may not be sure how to do so.

362.1962-616.2 Forensic Medicine         Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD