In the Blue

in the blue  hourigan

An emotional and tender award-winning picture book that accessibly explores depression within a family, through the use of color.

I've always been my dad's little sunspot. But one day, his world was no longer bright and yellow—it was a deep, dark blue.

As one father embarks on an emotional journey, his daughter will navigate life lived in and around his depression. Most days the sun won’t be able to peek through the clouds. But with each new wave of change, love will always bond them together.

This poignant and important story, with its use of color to indicate the ups and downs of one family's emotions, is an accessible way to discuss mental illness with young readers.---from the publisher

40 pages                                978-0316497626                             Ages 4-8

Keywords:  mental health, depression, mental illness, father/daughter, dealing with emotions, 4 year old, 5 year old, 6 year old, 7 year old, 8 year old


“Bought a ticket for a runaway train

Like a madman laughing at the rain

A little out of touch, a little insane

It's just easier than dealing with the pain”

– Soul Asylum (1993)

“Alarming rates of depression are not unique to the U.S. Globally, nearly four in 10 adults aged 15 and older either endure significant depression or anxiety themselves or have a close friend or family member who suffers from it. Other Gallup research has estimated that 22% of Northern American adults have experienced depression or anxiety so extreme that they could not continue regular daily activities for two weeks or longer, similar to a global rate of 19% and matching estimates found in Western Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, and South Asia.”

–, “U.S. Depression Rates Reach New Highs”

I’ve known people who suffered from depression. It seems a common enough condition to assume that most people likely know someone who is suffering or has suffered from it. This notable picture book story is told from the point of view of a little girl whose father is suffering from clinical depression. The story is done so well that the book won a Schneider Family Honor Award this year.

“The Schneider Family Book Awards honor an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.”

– American Library Association

“In the morning, my dad fills my room with songs as bright as the sunrise.

At night, he tucks me in with kisses that reach to the stars.

But right now, things for my dad aren’t bright and yellow. They are a deep, dark blue.

His kisses don’t reach as far at night,

and the morning is quiet and dim.

I try making him snacks and drawing him pictures. For a second, the sun peeks through the clouds.”

Written with beauty and power, IN THE BLUE does a stellar job of showing a child living with a family member’s clinical depression. The depiction of the father-daughter relationship is very relatable, and the illustrations employ the metaphorical color references from the text. Young readers and audiences can see the father suffering the blues.

The story shows us that this is a treatable condition. And they see the young girl getting support from a childhood therapist.

The tale concludes with the little girl’s recognition that while the blues will sometimes return for her dad, she’s always going to be his special little girl.

Given those statistical numbers cited by the gallup organization, it would seem that any elementary school library would benefit from having a copy of this one on the shelves.

Recommended by:  Richie Partington, MLIS, California USA

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