This is a departure from Debi's other books, as she draws on her own experience of the illness, to write about, and illustrate, the way depression drifts in like a fog, and can strike at any time, without warning. How it hangs around and leaves you tired and rudderless, without words to explain it.
Dragons are central to the book and in Debi's notes at the end, she explains that dragons have 'a legendary ability to turn a fertile realm into a blackened, smoking ruin and ... popular mythology shows them as monstrous opponents with a tendency to pick fights with smaller creatures.'
The dragons in Night Shift represent the depression, and appear at night as cloudy, dream-like apparitions. At other times they are reflected in the bathroom mirror, or rise up as a dominating presence in a room. The use of almost completely monochrome pictures helps to further express the emotions associated with depression.
The protagonist, a young girl, battles the dragons, using 'night skills' to learn how to survive. Skills that tell her that sometimes the 'harshest methods [are used] to hammer the message home'.
Although the journey readers go on through Night Shift is a difficult one, the book ends on a note of hope, as something changes for the girl.
A brave and important creation, Night Shift is a raw exploration of coping with depression. It's for anyone who needs to know they're not alone, and for everyone else to understand what someone with depression is going through.
Title: Night Shift
Author: Debi Gliori
Illustrator: Debi Gliori
Publisher: Bonnier, $24.99
Publication Date: February 2017
For ages: 12+
Type: Picture book