A PARISIAN living in Douglas was inspired to write a unique kids journal by a stuffed penguin she won more than 20 years ago in a funfair in Castletownbere.
Pascale Lutz has lived in Ireland for 35 years and worked in the creative sector all her life.
She’s a bass player in a rock band, a jewellery maker, a beautician and among many other things has created ‘Daily Happiness Cards’ to help with things like bullying and lack of self-esteem, and to promote encouragement, inclusion and positivity.
Her newest accomplishment is Benjy’s Green Journal, which is designed to educate kids about things like the environment, recycling, the sea, animals, trees, flowers, plants and science.
“I wanted to educate children but not in a boring way, I really wanted them to have fun!” insists Pascale.
The journal is also there to provide emotional support to kids, and her adored penguin Benjy has been given the leading role.
“I won him at a fair I visited in between gigs in Castletownbere in 1996. He’s so cute, and makes noises when you press his tummy. We even invented a life for him, and he was actually very real for us. So I decided to use him to talk to the children.”
Explaining the format of the journal, she explains: “There aren’t any dates at the start of each day; the child puts the date in, so there is no pressure to do it every day or to finish it at a certain time. And it is not ‘yearly’ — the child can use the book at any time of the year.”
Throughout, Benjy asks all sorts of questions, like: “Tell me one happy thing that happened to you today”, or a bit deeper, like “If your mood was a colour, what colour would it be today, and why?”.
There is drawing time or making and creating time at the end of every week and, every three months, Benjy asks the child to gently reflect about his/her life, to tell him their joys, worries, and try to find a solution.
“There is also a system of stickers, everyone loves stickers! And 28 times during the year, Benjy gives the user a ‘call to action’, where the child is asked to do a certain task in order to win a sticker. These all have something to do with the environment, helping Benjy to make the earth a friendly and clean place to live in.
“Then, at the end of the book, the child gets to writes his/her name on the diploma from Benjy Academy, which they can frame.”
Pascale illustrated the book herself: “The way I draw is more like a five- year-old than anything else. But the whole project has been a pure joy. I have no children but young Pascale came out to play and had so much fun in the process.”
Pascale and her husband Xav, a guitarist, have been unable to perform as part of their band since the pandemic hit. But she’s focusing on the positives.
“It is really difficult for all in the Cork music sector but I’ve kept my spirits up because I know this is only temporary, and what’s the point in being depressed about something you can do nothing about, as it will attract even more negative energy upon yourself!
“If you feel sorry for yourself and think ‘poor me, poor me’, guess what? You will attract more situations for which to feel sorry for yourself.
“I decided, as everything happens for a reason, to look for the blessings in the situation, and look what the past few months allowed me to do and create? My Green Journal with Benjy!
“I also got to spend more time with Xav, growing tomatoes, lettuce and strawberries, something we would never had had the time to do otherwise, baking and cooking, going for long walks, going cycling and riding our motorbikes!”
The French woman says she’s ‘so proud’ of what she has achieved.
“I know that Benjy will win every child’s heart.”
My Green Journal with Benjy (€18) is available from pascalelutz.com and Passage West Creates craft shop.
I’ve kept my spirits up because I know this is only temporary, and what’s the point in being depressed about something you can do nothing about.