R229. The Big Black Dog: Children's Literature Takes on Mental Illness

D133-134, Oregon Convention Center, Level 1
Thursday, March 28, 2019
1:30 pm to 2:45 pm


From schizophrenia and bipolar disorder to anxiety, depression, self-harm, substance abuse, and suicide—YA and middle-grade novels are increasingly taking mental illness head-on. We'll discuss how these issues are being portrayed in books for younger readers, why it’s so important, and how to do it right. We'll also cover coping skills and self-care as tools for both successful characters and writers.



Ann Jacobus is the author of young adult novel, Romancing the Dark in the City of Light. She earned her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is a volunteer crisis-line and outreach counselor for San Francisco Suicide Prevention.

Nancy Bo Flood received her PhD in Neuro-Pyschology and Child Development from the University of Minnesota followed by post-graduate studies researching motivation and memory. Award-winning books include middle grade novel, Soldier Sister, Fly Home, depicting multi-generational ways war and affects every family.

Karen Fortunati’s debut, The Weight of Zero, received the Connecticut Book Award and was recognized by the International Literacy Association. A former attorney, Karen serves on her city's Board of Aldermen and works part time as a museum educator. She lives in Connecticut with her family.

Brandy Colbert is the award-winning author of the young adult novels Pointe, Little & Lion, and Finding Yvonne, as well as the forthcoming The Revolution of Birdie Randolph and critically acclaimed essays and short fiction that have been published in various anthologies.

Martine Leavitt is the author of ten novels for young adult readers, including the following: Calvin, winner of the Governor General’s Award of Canada; My Book of Life by Angel, finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; and Keturah and Lord Death, finalist for the National Book Award.


March 8–11, 2023
Seattle, Washington

Seattle Convention Center