The Chill Skill by Niall Breslin and Emma Procter
This new picture book, by an author from my hometown, is a simple but engaging story that includes a mindfulness technique for young children. Sam is a little girl who, like many children, is sometimes overwhelmed by her emotions. While staying at her grandparents' seaside home, Sam learns a trick from her grandfather which helps Sam to manage her more powerful feelings. Although The Chill Skill tackles a serious subject, its gentle approach and animated, colourful illustrations, make it a cheerful and charming read that will appeal to children. As Sam is not a "perfect" kid, she is a character to whom young people will relate and whose actions are easily understood. The solace Sam finds in her ukulele might even encourage children take up music from an early age, and potentially learn another coping mechanism.
Author Niall Breslin is an Irish musician and mental health advocate, with a masters in mindfulness-based interventions, better known as "Bressie." His memoir, Me and My Mate Jeffrey, was a bestseller, and he hosts a popular podcast. This is Niall's third picture book and follows on from The Magic Moment and Take Five.
Emma Proctor has designed games, puzzles, stationery and greeting cards, including this hilarious range. Emma became a children's illustrator after a publisher was so impressed with the Christmas cards they spotted in Marks & Spencer, they approached her to work for them. The artwork for Emma's debut about a duo of dancing tortoises, Toby and Tabitha by Alexander Bar, looks absolutely gorgeous.
I love Emma's lively and light-hearted style and the details she includes in her images. Irish summer staples such as 99 iceceams, packets of Tayto, "sangwidges," and red lemonade are all present, adding to the story's relaxed atmosphere and calming qualities. These familiar elements also make The Chill Skill ideal for sending abroad, especially when so many Irish living overseas won't get home this Christmas.
Best suited to age four and upwards, this is an attractive and durable hardback edition, perfect for passing down to younger siblings and for use in a classroom too. As the plot centres on wisdom imparted by Sam’s grandfather, and their close relationship, this would make a great gift from a grandparent to a grandchild. If you'd like a copy of The Chill Skill with a signed bookplate, Just Books in Mullingar shoud have some available.
Title: The Chill Pill
Author: Niall Breslin
Illustrator: Emma Proctor
Publisher: Gill Books
Publication Date: October 2020