‘Is Something Wrong With Weasel?’ is a locally made children’s book about mental health.
It was written and illustrated by Steinbach's own Thom Van Dycke and co-authored by Connor Hellebuyck from the Winnipeg Jets.
Any proceeds raised through the books purchased will go to Project Eleven.
Van Dycke says Ray Petkau from Alpha Hockey wanted to help give back to the community, so Petkau hired Van Dycke to write a book.
“He said, ‘Thom, you're a storyteller. I'd love to hire you to write this book’ and I said, ‘well, I can illustrate it too.’”
They made another book previously called Ari's Awful Day, which tackles the topic of racism.
Van Dycke says the key to discussing big and important topics through children’s books, is to tackle just one small issue within the bigger issue.
This book is focused on encouraging kids to talk with their parents when they’re feeling down.
“If you're feeling blue you need to talk to a grown-up. Your friends are wonderful, they'll try to help, but really you need a grown-up to talk to.”
He says the book is a great way to get the conversation started between children and adults.
“If you can get kids talking, that's a huge thing. Our job is to teach our kids how to communicate what's going on inside them, and then help them meet those needs,” he says. “But if a kid can't learn to articulate what's going on, that makes our job very difficult as parents.”
Ray Petkau says the project is all about helping kids.
“Really, the whole goal of this project is to get kids talking about mental health and talking about their big feelings.”
The reading level of the book is grades 3-4, and kids grades K-2 can have the book read to them.
There are thousands of free copies going out courtesy of Van Dyck, Connor Hellebuyck, and Alpha Hockey.
Kids in grade 2 across Steinbach are going to be getting these books for free, and they are also available through the Winnipeg Jets website as well as in the Jets stores.
Van Dycke says it’s awesome to have the Winnipeg Jets partner with them on this book.
"Hockey is such a big thing in our province and in our country, so to get that kind of brand recognition behind such an important topic is pretty remarkable.”
Ray Petkau notes some books have been sent out to Nunavut.
“We're ensuring that the book is distributed in the north, in the province, and there will be probably a few thousand books going out of the province.”
He says Connor Hellebuyck has sent books to his elementary school in Michigan and there is also some interest in Minnesota.
With files from Dave Anthony