From a title like the one here, what might you expect?  Upon reading the front cover page, we see a mom and daughter enjoying a picnic and nature together. Both seem so happy, but as you read further into this powerful and touching picture book, we see that the little girl on the cover is one of a family of three children and mom and dad. Mom seems to be the perfect mom, helping to wipe away 'tears' and 'fears', reading bedtime stories, teaching 'right from wrong', making ‘special treats to eat’, helping with friendships, ‘loyalty and kindness’, encouraging her children to ‘always try and do their very best’, and being a cheerleader at her children’s sports’ events, but then gradually day by day, the mom’s behavior starts to change in a ‘sad and strange’ way....

She cried a lot and stayed in bed all day…and sometimes she would go away for a stay in the hospital. Dad finally explained that mom’s ‘heart and brain were in a lot of pain’…and ‘her sadness was an illness called depression’. The little girl needed to be reassured that she was not the cause, and she was given hope that her mom’s illness would one day go away. This message is one of sharing understanding and hope about the illness of depression. It is indeed ‘oh so real’ and a challenging issue in our society. 

Where Did Mommy's Smile Go?













I remember that during my childhood, I encountered a few people who were affected by mental break-downs where they ended up spending time in a hospital receiving medications and treatments. However, this was a stigma which we were told by family members and friends not to discuss. I still recall the hush-hush and shame when this topic or their names came up.

In my first few years as a young teacher, we never discussed this issue in my classroom. It was understood by educators then that it was something that was personal and very private to students and their families. However, mental illness is indeed something that needs to be openly discussed in schools, and this poignant picture book by Kim Fluxgold (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. & illustrated by Shawna Smoke, published on, who is telling her story from her own personal bouts with depression, is an excellent tool for the classroom and home. Children need to understand that it is not their fault and that they need to be understanding and compassionate just as they would be for any illness. As is written on the back cover of the book, “this heartwarming story captivates readers with the strength and resilience of one loving family’s journey.” I believe it is definitely a must-read and a must-use in the classroom!

In our CREATING THE DYNAMIC CLASSROOM: 5 Must-Haves for Teachers, 4th Edition, in BOOK 1: Creating an Inclusive Classroom Atmosphere, Mindy and I include information for teachers and parents about Mental Health & Student Well-Being. We offer ideas, strategies, and excellent resources to use to help shed light on this issue. More attention needs to be provided in schools to help students who themselves might be going through hard times mentally and emotionally, as well as to help them deal with family members who might be battling depression. Wishing you all the very best!

If you have any questions or comments, please send me an EMAIL.