Luna and the Astronaut of the Mind
A children’s book with a difference.
Cape Town – Created by Cape Town-based clinical psychologist, Garth Newman, and his wife, Yumna Sadan – this book helps children navigate their internal world by taking them on an intergalactic adventure. Luna’s journey is one well worth taking.
The book deals with themes such as sadness and depression, anxiety and fear, anger and bullying. These important themes are navigated by our hero, Luna and her trusty companion, the Astronaut. During this mentally and emotionally taxing time – children need stories that foster a sense of hope and security.
Luna and the Astronaut of the Mind was born out of a simple question. A curious 9-year-old asked, “What’s a psychologist?” And not wanting to go into too much detail, Garth jokingly replied, “I’m an astronaut of the mind.” This sparked a whirlwind of ideas which took 3 years to pen into a coherent story. This question is frequently asked by child patients when they enter therapy. So the book aims to provide a simple and fun way to explain the therapeutic process while assisting children to navigate complex challenges that many of them face.
The lockdown period created a time capsule – allowing the authors to craft their story and contain their own fears about the growing pandemic. The book was launched in mid-August and has garnered a fantastic response. “It’s been amazing to receive pictures of young readers enjoying our book,” says Yumna. “It’s been an incredible journey with Luna and the Astronaut. We’ve watched the characters grow and evolve – just as we have – and are thrilled by the positive feedback we’ve received.” For Yumna, who co-wrote and illustrated the book, creating a brown-skinned character with curly hair happened organically. “Growing up I never saw any protagonists who looked like me, my friends or family members. Diversity and representation matters. Children need to see themselves reflected in the stories they’re told.”
Garth, who has worked for many years in both state and private practice with children and adolescents had this to say, “Narrative therapy principles, which enable children to grapple with important concepts are an incredibly powerful tool. By interacting with characters in stories, abstract themes can become concrete and manageable. We can teach kids to be humans before being members of a particular race. We can teach kids, through intentionally inclusive stories, that each individual child can be a hero.”