(KYIV, Ukraine) — Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 and children’s book author Kateryna Yehorushkina decided that she would write a book to help the country’s children cope with the trauma of the war that will hit its six-month mark on Wednesday.
“I feel that it’s very important to talk about this war,” she told ABC News reporter Britt Clennett. “I feel like I’m doing my part.”
The goal of this book is to tell a story about the Russian war in Ukraine for children in a way that is “not traumatic for them,” she said.
Yehorushkina is the author of 15 other children’s books including a book called “The Chest,” about the 1932-22 famine in Ukraine imposed by the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. She is also trained in philology and psychology.
“I felt I could join and mix this knowledge to help kids to overcome this trauma,” she said. “To know [about the war], to have memories, but not to be traumatized a lot.”
The war has dramatically impacted more than 5 million Ukrainian children, with UNICEF estimating that more than 3 million children living inside the country and more than 2 million living as refugees need humanitarian assistance.
The story is told through the perspective of 10-year-old Vera, who lives in an unidentified part of Ukraine near Kyiv that has just been invaded by the Russian army. Vera is keeping a diary to describe how her family is responding to the invasion.
Yehorushkina placed events in her book that will be recognizable for children who have gone through the experience of invasion and occupation, such as putting tape over windows, which is said to protect a window from shattering during a blast, putting pillows in the bathroom, to hold over their heads in the case of bombardment, and eventually taking refuge in a basement.
Vera and her family live in the basement of their home for two weeks and Vera’s father works as a volunteer, delivering supplies such as groceries and pet food across the city.
Yehorushkina has also placed objects like a doll of the Disney character Elsa from the film “Frozen” in her illustrations, she said, so that children can see themselves in the narrative.
The illustrations purposefully have no dark colors and have been kept very light and bright, she said.
The process of writing the book is “not easy,” she said, adding that she has to be in a “very calm psychological state” while writing.
Yehorushkina lives in Vyshhorod, Ukraine, and is currently separated from her two young children, who helped provide some of the inspiration for writing this book. Her daughter and her friends would recreate their homes and cities using the video game Minecraft, she said, which inspired a scene in this book.
Yehorushkina is also a licensed art therapist, working with Ukrainian children in different settings. One of the activities she does with children is to draw angels, which they imagine are defending their cities and loved ones.
“Their mental health is a very high priority for me,” she said.
As a mother of two children, she has seen first-hand the devastating psychological impacts of living through a war.
“I said to [my daughter], ‘all your emotions are normal,"” she recounted. “It’s very important to say what we feel.”
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