Ukrainian children’s author imagines war through his eyes
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 and children’s book author Kateryna Yehorushkina has decided she will write a book to help the country’s children cope with the trauma of war who will turn six months old on Wednesday.
“I think it’s very important to talk about this war,” she told ABC News reporter Britt Clennett. “I feel like I’m doing my part.”
The purpose of the book is to tell a story about the Russian war in Ukraine to children in a way that is “not traumatic for them”, she said.
Yehorushkina is the author of 15 other children’s books, including a book called “The Chest”, about the 1932-22 famine in Ukraine imposed by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. She is also trained in philology and psychology.
“I felt I could join and blend this knowledge to help children overcome this trauma,” she said. “To know [about the war]to have memories, but not to be too traumatized.”
The war has had a dramatic impact on more than 5 million Ukrainian children, with UNICEF estimating that more than 3 million children living inside the country and more than 2 million living as refugees are in need of humanitarian aid.
The story is told from the perspective of 10-year-old Vera, who lives in an unidentified part of Ukraine near Kyiv that has just been overrun by the Russian army. Vera keeps a diary to describe how her family reacted to the invasion.
Yehorushkina placed events in her book that will be recognizable to children who have lived through the experience of the invasion and occupation, such as putting duct tape on the windows, which is supposed to prevent a window from breaking during storms. an explosion, put pillows in the bathroom, to hold above their heads in case of a bombardment, and possibly take refuge in a basement.
Vera and her family live in the basement of their house for two weeks, and Vera’s father works as a volunteer, delivering supplies such as groceries and pet food across town.
Yehorushkina also placed objects like a doll of the Disney character Elsa from the movie “Frozen” in her illustrations, she said, so children could see themselves in the story.
The illustrations purposely didn’t have dark colors and were kept very light and bright, she said.
The process of writing the book is “not easy”, she said, adding that she had to be in a “very calm psychological state” while writing.
Yehorushkina lives in Vyshhorod, Ukraine, and is currently separated from her two young children, who helped provide some of the inspiration for writing this book. Her daughter and her friends were recreating their homes and towns using the Minecraft video game, she said, which inspired a scene in this book.
Yehorushkina is also a licensed art therapist, working with Ukrainian children in different settings. One of the activities she does with the children is to draw angels, which they imagine defending their cities and loved ones.
“Their mental health is a very high priority for me,” she said.
As a mother of two children, she has witnessed the devastating psychological effects of living through war.
“I said to [my daughter]”all of your emotions are normal,” she said. “It’s very important to say what you feel.”