There are some people whom charge you with life-giving force just by talking to them. Our interlocutor is a writer, poet, and watercolor artist from Vinnytsia, Darya Palamarchuk, and she is definitely one of those people! She is bright and full of light, inspiring and positive, and the children’s books that she writes are just as bright and positive as she is. Her creativity makes a place of strength for children and adults!
After all, a book can help you guidelive through the difficult experiences in times of anxiety and confusion, it can bring the feeling of homeliness to those who lost their homes to the war.
Darya is the author of the collection of fairy tales About Nature. They are special because they are written by hand, have watercolor illustrations created by the author herself, and augmented reality. Darya holds author meetings, readings, and fairy-tale therapy groups for children who found refuge in Vinnytsia with the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion.
“We should discuss the situation we live in with our children, share our emotions, and ask them about theirs. In fact, books can help us find words for such difficult conversations because fairy-tale therapy is an effective psychological help during the war,” she assures.
“Writing and painting the war out of yourself”
“I plan that About Nature series will consist of six books, and four have already been published. These are The Collection of Tales About Seashells, Tales of Little Birds, Tales of the Whiskered and Shagged and Tales of the Wild and not so Wild. Two more books are currently “in progress”, as they are being written”, Darya Palamarchuk says. “Publishing books is not cheap in general, and all the more during the war, so I am grateful to the Goodacity space for the micro-grant that will help me print more books as gifts to displaced children.”
“Writing my first book, The Collection of Tales About Seashells, I wanted to confess my love for the sea and its inhabitants,” the woman explains. “And I also wanted to do something exclusive, having wow-effect, something that had never appeared before. I did not find a single book about seashells and shellfish on the children’s book market, that’s why I set out to write my own…
Shellfish are all different, each kind is unique, with its character, habits, and lifestyle. I felt so much enthusiasm about this topic that I even illustrated the book myself! And to make reading it even more interesting, I came up with a know-how: the characters of the book were brought to life thanks to augmented reality.
Samuel the Whale and Syoma the Octopus not only swim on the pages of the book in 3D, but they also talk! This is a cute bonus that delights and amuses not only children, but adults as well!”
“I am always very moved by children’s love for my characters that is born from the first fairy tale, from the first book page.
Those characters are colorful and easy to remember, so later children make up their own tales and adventures with them; kids draw them, sculpt them from Plasticine and keep them as souvenirs. Our region has taken more than 300,000 people fleeing the war since the full-scale invasion started. And when I give my books to the children displaced to Vinnytsia from the active combat zones, it is so nice to see how they light up, being first so wary and bottled up. “Wow, please show me how they swim!” “Is this a whale, so big?!” Seeing children’s eyes full of delight is an incredible feeling! The joy of their discoveries inspires me the most! And then the kids learn more about the characters, make friends with them, and start creating their own stories…”
“I am a certified crisis psychologist, so all the fairy tales from my About Nature collection also have a therapeutic effect. I wrote them having art therapy method in mind, and their main task is to turn negative into positive. After all, even all those things around us that we don’t like can teach us a lesson, and we can turn it into a life experience that makes us stronger.
Children understand this message very well. In general, my fairy tales are supposed to be not only entertainment for children, but a family project, so that parents would also find it interesting and useful. So that mom and dad would not fall asleep while reading a book to their kid at night, seeing it as a rather unpleasant duty, but would also be fascinated and glad about it, and had a chance to discuss stories with their children and get closer emotionally.”
“Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion I have been giving my books to internally displaced children to distract them from the realities of war, instill a love of reading, and expand their knowledge of the Ukrainian language.
To accomplish this, I hold author meetings, readings, fairy-tale therapy groups, and I have already distributed over 200 books. Help during the war can come in many ways, and a psychological one is also vital.
Children, whose lives are suddenly invaded by war that has taken away their homes and destroyed their usual life, are shocked and stressed, even if it is not always visible to others. They all behave differently at our meetings. I saw those who were withdrawn, did not speak at all and did not want to contact; some children were the other way around, they were overwhelmed with emotions that they could not always cope with… But I manage to find some key to the kids’ hearts through a fairy tale and through a picture, that’s why that we also draw pictures and make our own fairy tales at the author’s meetings. I manage to help them cope with their fears, such as the fear of the unknown, longing for their home and many other completely non-childish fears. Children pour these fears into fairy tales and stories they compose and draw at the meetings, they write out the war…”
Therapy… with a fairy tale
“Fairy tale therapy works even for me because I have my own personal therapy session when I write. These tales have a lot of me, my life experience. I draw illustrations for them with watercolors. It is the lightest paint because it is transparent, light, it has a lot of water and fits the marine theme very well; but at the same time, it is the most difficult because it requires precision of movements, self-discipline, and constant control over the process. Each illustration, each character and its world in a fairy tale, also make a kind of art therapy. And of course, reading those tales to children and discussing them afterwards is a kind of therapy session every time, and with my own child as well.”
Dancing, drawing, painting textile products with acrylic paint, making jewelry from ceramics, work in marketing — this is far from a complete list of Ms. Darya’s creative activities.
“I was involved with a lot of things, but in the beginning was a word, as they say,” the woman laughs. “As long as I can remember, I have always been writing. I have been writing poetry since the first grades of school, participated in many poetry contests and competitions. My first book of poems was published when I was 16 years old. Later, I also took up prose. Two years ago, I decided to commit myself to creative work and wrote a collection of tales about seashells in one breath — three weeks passed from the moment the idea was born to the putting of the layout to print. And after that, it went on… Books were born rapidly and easily, one after another; I had two new collections of poetry published last year, alongside working with the children’s books (I have already seven poetry collections in total), and now I am preparing another one for publication. And if my books help children to relieve stress, if they make a child smile sincerely, it means that I have been working for a good reason! Children should be listening to fairy tales instead of explosions and air raid signals, and we should do everything possible so that they know that goodness exists and always wins, not only in fairy tales!”