Article provided by Dr. Urmila Pai, M.D.
The Children’s Book Review | October 27, 2015
The Children’s Book Review: The main character is a young girl who worries about everything: missing the school bus, falling, being laughed at, and riding a train etc. Please tell us more about Nellie and her journey to overcome her worries.
Dr. Urmila Pai, M.D.: Yes, Nellie is a girl that worries about everything. She is always asking What if? What if? What if? Her family decides to get her into treatment for her anxiety with Dr. NoFear. Nellie learns about anxiety, learns that there are many other kids like her, and over time, Nellie learns to overcome her worries and fears.
As a psychiatrist, there are so many different disorders and personal troubles that you address—such as depression and ADHD. Why did you choose to focus your first children’s book on anxiety?
Anxiety is the most common among psychiatric conditions, and is often the most under-treated one. It is an internalizing disorder, in which people don’t always share their problems with others and tend to keep their worries to themselves. Anxiety can manifest in children from a very young age and often lasts for a very long time. Books are a great way to reach out to kids. I think that anxious children can really connect and relate to a character, such as Nellie. I hope that my book can help them see that they are not alone with their worries and that there is always going to be help available.
What has been the best response you have received from a reader of Nervous Nellie, so far?
The best response so far has been from a family that was contemplating getting help for their daughter’s anxiety. Their daughter was able to relate to Nellie’s feelings. Reading about Nellie going through treatment helped this young girl see what treatment would be like, and convinced the family to seek help, which they otherwise would not have done. If my book is able to benefit any child with anxiety, either in terms of how they feel or getting the help that they need, then I will consider this book successful in its purpose.
If you were to define the ultimate reader for Nervous Nellie, who would it be? In short, who is the intended audience?
When I wrote the book. I had my patients in mind. I think that the book is intended for young children suffering from anxiety—both children who are in treatment and ones who are contemplating getting help for their anxiety.
How long did it take you to write the story and can you describe your writing process?
The entire process took several months. After I wrote the book, I had it professionally edited. Then, I worked with illustrator, Jackie Schuld, very closely- discussing each illustration, design and layout of the book. Finally, the book was ready to be published. It was a great adventure for me because I have never really done anything like this before!
At what point in your career did you decide it was time to write a book for children?
I initially thought about writing a children’s book for my patients during my child psychiatry fellowship at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. I have always felt that books are a great way to engage young kids, and thought that there is not much out there on this topic for kids to read and relate to. Over the past year, my own 5- year- old son, had really grown as a reader. When we would read together, I saw that he was so interested in the stories that he read and often related them to his own life in some way. My interest in writing resurfaced at this time and I decided to make my dream to write a children’s book for my patients a reality.
Written by Dr. Urmila Pai, M.D.
Illustrated by Jackie Schuld
Publisher’s Synopsis: What if? What if? What if? Nellie worries about everything- getting on a train, a plane, making friends in school, and more. With the help of Dr. Nofear, Nellie embarks on a journey to overcome her anxiety.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Special Needs Publishing | 2015 | ISBN-13: 978-0692493175
About the Author
Dr. Urmila Pai, M.D. is a double board certified adult, child and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. She trained at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center, and currently maintains a private practice in Long Island, NY. In addition to her private practice, she serves as a consultant to school districts in Long Island, serves on the executive board as a medical consultant in the Long Island Professional ADHD consortium, and is included in the writers’ team at special-ism.com. She is a member of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists and the American Psychiatric Association. Visit her website at www.urmilapai-md.com for more information.
Learn more about the book here.
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