Lessons of a Lac

Lessons of a Lac was recently launched in Newcastle by two local mums. Written by Lynn Jenkins, a clinical psychologist and illustrated by Kirrili Lonergan, Lessons of a Lac is a wonderful picture book for kids and parents to read together.

The book was written as a resource tool to help children with their anxieties. With gorgeous large illustrations, the book explores the struggle between anxiety and calm. The pictures perfectly illustrate the varying expressions of anxiety on Loppy’s face in contrast to the serene appearance of the Calmsters.

Through the characters of Loppy the Lac (Little Anxiety Creature) and his so-called enemy Curly Calmster, we learn that you don’t need always need to look out for danger and feel anxious. The book encourages children to take a different approach to their worries. By adopting the Calmsters’s special skill of soothing talk, this can help with managing their anxieties.

Although this book is targeted at children, I must admit it helped me with a few anxious moments this week. Like Loppy, I found myself saying “What if?” and “I don’t think I can”. Reading ‘Lessons of a Lac’ to my child reminded me to use valuable techniques of positive self-talk and calming breaths to set a good example.

It’s a beautiful book to remind us all of us that we don’t need to look out for everyday worst-case scenarios but instead be like Curly Calmster and think positively.

For more information about Lynn and Kirrili and how Lessons of a Lac orginated, read the Q&A below.

What inspired you to write this book?

(LJ) A passion for early intervention.  It makes sense to me to intervene early in a child’s life; to give them a way to think about their anxious chatter and give them some tools to manage it.  Working with adults with anxiety who talk about being anxious since childhood, reinforces this tremendously.

How should parents use this book?

(LJ) To open up conversations about worries; about things that might be worrying their little ones.  To give them some words to use when they are worrying and to have a common language to use when talking about worrying, e.g., ‘Loppy is talking to me’, and ‘what do you think Curly might say to help you?’  Talking with our children in this way not only assists with emotional concerns, it is actually building stepping stones to a deeper relationship.  If, from our children’s point of view, they experience their parent being interested and trying to help them with a difficult feeling, they learn over-time that they can trust that we can help them when they are feeling vulnerable or going through difficult times.

How long did it take to write and illustrate ‘Lessons of a Lac’?

(LJ) Roughly 18 months all up. Lessons of a Lac originally came from another book I wrote, School Start (that was released January this year), and a longer version is still in that book.  I wrote it as part of a chapter on explaining what anxiety is to parents, and it came about via my attempts to explain anxiety in a way children might understand!  Kirrili did the black and white illustrations for the story in School Start and then we decided to publish Lessons of a Lac as a separate book.

Are you a Loppy or a Curly?

(LJ) I am a Loppy by nature but I have learned to become a Curly!  But Loppy definitely still makes an appearance with things that are important to me.  I am a BIG Loppy when it comes to my children!

(KL) I definitely have a bit of Loppy in me and I think most of us do, but in varying degrees. I also have a lot of Curly in me too and I welcome him in when Loppy starts to take over. So I would say I’m a bit of both!

How did you come up with the fantastic illustrations of Loppy and Curly

(KL) When I first read Lynn’s manuscript I had an instant visual of Loppy Lac and scribbled it down. The character of Curly appeared soon after. My first perception was that they were going to be neither animals nor humans, but creatures that children can identify and relate to. Loppy was illustrated darker with bold lines and bulging features to capture the anxious personality that he portrays. Curly is alot more delicate and smooth with beautiful inviting eyes. He is calm, warm and happy.

Is there a significance of the red stripes of Lacs and yellow stripes of Calmsters?

(KL) Yes! Red was the colour of choice for Loppy as it is a powerful, energetic colour that is often associated with fear and danger. The red stripey tail that flows the whole way through the book is eyecatching and a little feature for the kiddies to enjoy and get a surprise at the end. The yellow stripes of the Calmsters were chosen as yellow is a joyous, uplifting colour which is often associated with creating an open atmosphere and the ability to rationalize.

Are there future children’s books in the pipeline?

(LJ) We hope so!  We’d love to see how Loppy and Curly tackle some of the more common situations that cause children to become anxious…..

(KL) I hope that this is the first of many adventures for Loppy and Curly in the picture book world and that they become prominent books on the shelves of many children.

Lessons of a Lac (RRP $14.95) can be purchased at Macleans Booksellers in Hamilton (call first to see if they have in stock as they’ve been selling fast) or online at www.roomtoconnect.com.au. If you’re around The Junction, you can purchase a book from Lynn’s practice. Life Matters Psychologists located at 199 Corlette Street, The Junction.


Kirrili and Lynn signing ‘Lessons of a Lac’ at their recent book launch