CM . . .
. Volume XVIII Number 37. . . .May 25, 2012
Joe, the young hero of the story, explains how his thoughts sometimes go to a deep, dark place he calls the "swampy pit." Such thoughts make him feel terrible. But on one particular stormy night, his room is filled with a bright blue light, and Wilfred, a wizard, appears. Wilfred gives him a magical wand which looks just like a plain old stick to Joe. Wilfred explains the purpose of the magic wand is to help him take charge of his thoughts, especially the ones that are dark and swampy! He tells Joe: "Use your wand and zap your thoughts anytime they don't feel right. This will make room for happy thoughts." The young narrator finds that, as "Captain Joe," he can use his "zap" stick any time to call up his magic power to banish negative thoughts. He can be the boss of his mind, making sure that happy, constructive thoughts overrule gloomy, self-defeating ones. The stories are published in the form of four illustrated paperback books, each one featuring Joe invoking his "Captain Joe" power to beat out depression, anxiety, envy and disappointment. To go with the concepts presented in the books, the author has put together a companion guide, Captain Joe Teaching Resources, for educators, consisting of 119 pages of activities, worksheets, coloring pages, learning objectives and assessment rubrics.
The central idea for the Captain Joe series is one with which most adults will be familiar. In psychological terms, it is often called cognitive therapy and is likely to be promoted by psychotherapists as a way of treating anxiety and depression. According to this theory, humans have the capacity to find within themselves a dimension of consciousness or a deeper self which can oversee thoughts, assess them and send the destructive ones packing. When a person engages this ability, as Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now, puts it: "The thought loses its power over you and quickly subsides…" Each of Madill's stories is set up to illustrate this "power of now" type of thinking. When negative thoughts threaten to take over and spoil Joe's day, he employs his Captain Joe super-power—a sort of meta-cognition—to "zap" them out of his head. Madill sees her stories as helping young children to use their imaginations to choose constructive thoughts that will promote healthy self-esteem and self-awareness.
Valerie Nielsen, a retired teacher-librarian, lives in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.