From the moment the CEO of a leading Children’s Charity and Crisis centre approached me to write a picture book about domestic violence, I was filled with agitation. This was after all not your everyday topic for an entertaining children’s book. It was, and still is, however an ongoing horrifying reality of society regardless of culture or creed. And so, this story became my challenge, my tormentor and eventually one of my ultimate favourites.
Flick is just like any other youngster. She loves to chase butterflies and tussle autumn leaves but life at the end of Holyrood Lane is often violent and unpredictable due to the constant storms that plague her home causing her to cringe with dread and flee whenever they strike. Flick tries her best to quell and endure the storms’ persistent wrath until one day, with nowhere left to hide Flick summons the courage to face her fears by asking for help to overcome them.
At the End of Holyrood Lane is a metaphorical glimpse at one aspect of domestic violence and how it affects young lives. It is a tale of anxiety shown through the eyes of a small being with an intense dislike for thunderstorms, a fear shared by many young children. I hope the duality used evokes a gentle awareness for young readers who may be suffering their own domestic torment but are too scared or unsure of how to seek help and shelter from their storms.
Few picture books available today address this volatile and woefully prevalent aspect of society without overt explicitness or didactic overtones. At the End of Holyrood Lane does so in a sympathetic, non-threatening way. Once again, Nicky Johnston’s illustrations are visually arresting, emotionally incisive, and ultimately…uplifting. Pure magic.
Published: September 2018
Illustrator: Nicky Johnston
Publisher: EK Books $24.99
Format: Hardcover 32pp
Ideal for: 4 – 8 year olds, schools, children’s charity institutions, DV organisations, children in need organisations
Radio Interviews: Click on the images below for assorted podcasts of my on air discussions about Holyrood Lane.
Need help? Kids Helpline is Australia’s only free, private and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25 1800 55 1800 kidshelpline.com.au
Vivid language and personification heighten the intensity of the storms, giving them force and raging emotions. The watercolor illustrations that accompany the text fill the pages, leaving no space without a purpose.Expressive illustrations and text rich with poetic vocabulary share a sensitive story with a message about asking for help when a situation feels scary. Kirkus Reviews
Coomera author has dared write a book tackling the topic considered taboo for kids. John Affleck, Gold Coast Bulletin March 2017
It is a stunning book – in every way – metaphorically, the writing is lyrical and inspirational and the illustrations are awe-inspiring. Dimity again dares to touch on what is normally a forbidden subject for children: the devastation of domestic violence. With delicacy, and ultimately hope, Dimity’s lyrical words and Nicky’s evocative illustrations touch on hope in the midst of terror. With beautiful metaphors and symbolism this book brings to light awareness of children who suffer and who are vulnerable in our society. We are excited to add this deeply touching story to our Paradise Kids Library. Deidre Hanna, Founder CEO Hopewell Hospice Services and Paradise Kids
The End of Holyrood Lane is a beautiful, non-didactic exploration of family violence. Unlike many other books broaching the subject, it deals with verbal abuse directed at the child protagonist. The illustrations show the parent figure in silhouette as a storm, and the other adult figure as a refuge from the storm. Highly suitable for teachers to read to Early Primary classes. Dr Zewlan Moor, Byron Bibliotherapy
We are so blessed to have such quality writers for children in this country who are unafraid to tackle difficult subjects. Sue Warren Teacher Librarian Just So Stories
At The End of Holyrood Lane is a beautiful story about a little girl who is terrified by the storm that chases and scares her but when Flick reaches out for help she finally becomes safe and the sunshine comes out. Dimity Powell should be commended for the gentle way in which she approaches the challenges faced by so many children growing up in a house of violence. RizeUp is proud to support Dimity and her beautiful story and we are sure it will touch the lives of so many children and their parents in a positive way. Nicolle Edwards CEO Founder, RizeUp
I think…the poetry and vivid use of language is exciting and will encourage creativity and love of language in young children. Above all, Dimity’s skills in and focus on mediating social and emotional skills and competencies to children, will encourage them to see help in dark times and help them to navigate through stormy weather and understand that it will pass. Leslee Unwin Founder & President Think Equal
Congratulations to Dimity Powell and Nicky Johnston for creating At the End of Holyrood Lane, as it is timely in sending a message of hope to a child witnessing the scourge of domestic violence in their family. At last, attitudes are changing and the tide is starting to turn against family violence. Part of this change will include children seeking help directly when the adults in their life are unable or unwilling to protect them. Children’s books such as this have a role to play in the process of helping a child, through metaphor and subtle example, to gain some understanding and in encouraging them to seek help at an early stage. Gary E Poole Registered Psychologist & Regional Director Act For Kids
This new picture book by Australian duo, Dimity Powell and Nicky Johnston, uses stunning visual metaphor to offer a ray of hope to kids facing dark days. Australian Teacher Magazine, Important Resource recommendation
Wonderfully evocative and heartfelt (as you would expect from Dimity, who is such a talented wordsmith). And it’s been illustrated by the wonderful Nicky Johnston with her lovely, gentle pictures. George Ivanoff Author
This is a soulful yet uplifting story about the detrimental effect domestic violence has on children . Nicky Johnston’s illustrations transform the text into beautiful visuals that enhance the author’s words and create a harmonious fusion of words and images. A book…with a confronting theme magnificently executed…that will awaken awareness in young children who may recognize similarities in Flick’s life and theirs. It’s a must for every school library and home bookshelf. Anastasia Gonis Kids’ Book Review
I commend your work in tackling the difficult subject of domestic and family violence, as it relates to and impacts on children. Additional support is needed for children who experience domestic and family violence. Thank you for taking an active part in making a difference to those children experiencing domestic and family violence. Dr Kylie Stephen Director Women, Violence Prevention and Youth Strategy and Partnerships Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women
If there ever was a story that so finely balances a highly delicate topic with exquisitely gentle language and a resolution that makes your heart swell, it’s At the End of Holyrood Lane. Highly evocative and dramatically moving, the value of this book to homes and schools is unquestionable. Romi Sharp Boomerang Books Blog
I love how Dimity’s passion for words shines through her work. They always warm my heart. Her words are like a gentle hug, wrapped with love to bring joy. Interview with Robert Vescio Author Robert’s Time Out Blog
Appealing illustrations in a book that will inspire confidence. Margaret Hamilton AM The The Children’s Book Cottage Pinerolo
This new picture book from Dimity Powell, beautifully illustrated by Nicky Johnston, provides a safe metaphor (with its subtle analogy) for children in just such a situation (of abuse) and enables caring adults to explore strategies by which these victims can begin to feel secure. Poetically written with much onomatopoeia and beautiful language it is a book worthy of sharing even if not in a ‘pointed’ way but just to explore children’s fears in general. I highly recommend it for your young readers from Prep upwards and would suggest that you also bring it to the attention of your school guidance officers/psychologists. Sue Warren Teacher-Librarian Just So Stories
This is a sensitive book with a message of hope, bringing to the fore a child’s perspective of domestic violence and how it makes the child feel. This book should strike a chord with any child who has experienced any domestic violence and will afford a glimpse of such a situation of anyone who hasn’t. It is beautifully illustrated with gentle pictures that convey the varied emotions of this story.The uplifting ending will give hope to readers...Anne Helen Donnelly Buzz Words
Endorsed as a resource to help children witnessing domestic violence, this gentle story explores coping with fear in general. Sandy Fussell Sunday Funday Telegraph Reviews