Mess and disorder upset Oswald. Even the complexity of his own name is enough to set Oswald’s legs jiggling and his palms itching with anxiety. To combat his unease, Oswald obsessively counts his take-everywhere pocket pals – his crayons. It is a compulsion he finds comforting but also extremely exhausting.
Oswald’s obsessive preoccupations distract him from everything and everyone else around him, until one day Oswald is encouraged to use his penchant for perfection and eye for detail in a class project. With the help of his crayons, Oswald’s classmates create something spectacular, which helps Oswald realise just how valuable he is in spite of his anxieties.
Oswald is not a picture book that focuses intently on the educational perspectives of children with OCD but rather more on the emotional aspects associated with this debilitating condition. Oswald is caught in the grips of needing to be in control of the messier aspects of his life and like many young children suffering from obsessive worrying and anxieties, wants to stop but can’t. By allowing Oswald to take control of his anxieties and employ them with purpose, Oswald gains room to breathe and an awareness that they need not govern him.
I really loved meeting Oswald – a perfect albeit messy name. Dimity and Siobhan have captured in word and illustrations the anxiety and worry which overwhelms these children and stories in their heads they can’t untangle – at home and at school. The sinking boat and then the unsinkable boat (analogy) allows him to rise from the unconscious into hope and safety. Then the lovely teacher picks up his strengths and turns what could be a disability into a creative enterprise that allows him to be proud and accepted. You are a beautiful psychotherapist, Dimity. (I felt) so privileged to read it. Deidre Hanna, Founder, Hopewell Hospice and Paradise Kids
OCD is a condition that can cause distress and is generally characterised by obsessions (recurring thoughts) and compulsions (repeated behaviours). Dimity Powell has written this story to bring this condition to light and give children and parents the opportunity to open up a discussion about thoughts/feelings and behaviours within the family. Oswald’s tendency to resort to his counting when he is feeling anxious or overwhelmed is a common strategy used by people with OCD. And while OCD may not be resolved as simply as shown in the book, it gives the positive message that there are ways of managing OCD, and it all begins with a conversation thanks to the existence of books such as these.Sally-Anne McCormack Melbourne-based Child & Adolescent Psychologist and authorwww.ANTSA.com.au
Powell takes the reader on a journey of discovery with Oswald. One day, when faced with the exuberance and confusion of a group activity, Oswald learns that his orderly and methodical disposition has some benefits. In fact, being valued for his unique contribution leads to some lovely outcomes for him. Every child who is different must find a way to interface with the world whilst remaining true to themselves, and this story depicts the way that suited Oswald best. Oswald’s world is beautifully depicted by Siobhan McVey’s vibrant illustrations, which capture the thoughts and distress that Oswald faces when intersecting with the external world. A book that will help children who are different feel less isolated, and comforted knowing that there are others with similar challenges.Jo Antareau, KBR reviewer, author, psychologist
Oswald is so relatable to me… he suffers from OCD. It is a wonderful book for children to understand so different and sometimes difficult feelings and behaviors. Mental health is such an important topic to have conversations about at an early age. I think this is wonderful, and I think it will be close to many hearts. Mia PiaGoodreads review