Book Spotlight: Kokan and Zoya
The Children’s Book Review
Written by Vasavi Koka
Illustrated by Kristy Anne Ligones
Ages 4+ | 82 Pages
Publisher: Vasavi Koka | ISBN-13: 9798784742193
What to expect: Therapeutic story, metaphors, emotions, therapeutic activities.
To feel the sun on your face is one of life’s simplest but most rewarding pleasures.
‘Kokan and Zoya’ is a children’s story designed to teach children about embracing their emotions, in particular anger. For the main character, I use a ‘cloud,’ with his monochromatic tones, as a metaphor for anger and his subsequent journey to exploring his relationship with it. This narrative is underpinned by the ideology of the ‘Therapeutic story structure’ which is used as a device for the journey. The story identifies the significance of Zoya the sun and her powerful presence in casting light over darkness. Although disparate from each other they have a lot of shared qualities. The merging of the two natural elements plays a pivotal role in the story.
It is essential to appreciate that everyone experiences different emotions, and they are often transient. It is important to recognize that validating emotions is an essential component in the healing process. I hope to convey the fact that there is great value in children accepting and processing their feelings. It can be a very cathartic and healing experience which Is encouraged through relatable storytelling. I strongly believe that the art of storytelling is the greatest tonic for our souls.
I want the characters to embody the complexities of anger and the concept of self-healing. The natural elements of the sun, cloud, moon, and stars showcase the depth of these intriguing emotions.
During the Covid Pandemic, I witnessed so many children bottling up angry emotions, finding it difficult to show or name their feelings. By carefully observing their frustration at not being able to channel their emotions, I decided to create this story with its accompanying tool kit as a way of helping young readers to describe their emotions and use the creative arts-based activities as a form of catharsis. I hope that children will be able to identify with Kokan and gently move through the weather themes in the story. There are many metaphors strewn throughout the story and each of them is designed to help children gently explore their relationship with anger and to know that ultimately love and kindness always triumph in the end.
Zoya’s kindness and unconditional love and care shine through, gently supporting Kokan on his journey. This tenderness and warmth help him feel safe enough to work through his feelings and to move forward to a more peaceful place.
Every child’s experience will be different but when they reach the end of the story and move on to the tool kit, I hope that they can use play, imagination, and the arts as a tool for empowerment. The activities have been carefully curated and designed to help parents nurture their children and provide ways for them to vocalize any feelings of angst that they may experience. This story acts as a supportive and positive framework to process those emotions for both parent and child.
“She wanted Kokan to leave the shadows behind and embrace the night. The lesson to learn is that it will come to an end just as Luan sinks and Zoya rises each morning.”
Kokan and Zoya.
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About the Author
Vasavi Koka is an Art Educator, a trainee Therapeutic Play Practitioner, and a Therapeutic Story writer. She writes for children of all ages. After studying her BA in Art with English Literature and her Masters in Art, Design and Visual Culture she went on to complete her Postgraduate Certificate in Secondary Art Education at The University of Cambridge. Vasavi has since embarked on a successful teaching career and during this time has discovered the importance of play, both in terms of learning and discovery and also as a medium for children to explore difficult feelings, thoughts, and emotions.
This inspired her to commence a Postgraduate Certificate in Therapeutic Play Skills, the first part of a qualification in Play and Creative Arts therapy, in addition to her continuing teaching career. It was during her training that she discovered the magic of therapeutic stories. She believes, through the power of metaphor and story, children can detach safely from an experience allowing them the space to regulate their behavior and achieve perspective and balance. She is a firm advocate of the healing nature of these stories and their ability to empower young people to find their own way to heal trauma. Kokan and Zoya is the first story in her series: Vasavi’s Therapeutic Stories and Play.
For more information, visit https://www.vasavitherapeuticstoriesandplay.com/.
Read our exclusive interview: Vasavi Koka Discusses Kokan and Zoya