Thursday, December 15, 2022
3 things you didn’t know about Book of Beasties

Book of Beasties is an award-winning mental wellbeing resource designed to help teachers, parents and anyone working or volunteering with children, to have difficult conversations about mental wellbeing.

What is a whole ecosystem of game, book and digital learning resources today, began life as an idea casually shared between friends. The idea came from a simple question, and one that we’re still trying to answer today: what can we do to have more positive conversations about mental health and mental wellbeing?

So, as we get ready for our next exciting chapter and the launch of our Family edition, let’s share a little more about us. Three surprising things that you (probably) didn’t know about Book of Beasties.

Where it started…

Did you know that the idea for Book of Beasties is in part the ‘first child’ project of husband and wife team Phil and Nadia, who along with their other co-founder Tom formed the company in 2018? The mental wellbeing tool that is used in schools across the UK and endorsed by leading psychologists, Great Ormond Street Hospital and the University of West London, was conceived by a group of friends that included former journalist, Phil Tottman.

From right to left: Nadia De Kuyper, Phil Tottman, Tom Dryland.

Book of Beasties started as a casual conversation between friends about mental health in 2017. And, over time, as more conversations happened around this topic, it became a personal project to create a family of incredible original characters to portray mental wellbeing difficulties took shape. Every week, new conversations happened and with every conversation, new Beasties were created.

With the help of graphic designer Nadia, the original characters evolved, new Beasties came to life, and a whole story took shape and became Book of Beasties. What started as only a tiny idea amid a happenstance conversation has blossomed, and the illustrated card game has become a whole suite of digital learning tools, games, classroom resources and a book to accompany the original card game.

Book of Beasties has become more than a friends and family business today as Nadia and Phil now not only work together and share the responsibilities of the business, they have a young family of their own. But their Beasties will always be their first children…

“It was always going to be a challenge working with friends and family, but if done right it can really strengthen a relationship. And I feel we've done it right. Although for me personally raising three kids (including Phil in there) and starting a business has been so fun, but very difficult at times.

Our first son, Arthur was premature and spent a lot of time in hospital, so Phil and I did a lot of work whilst sitting next to his incubator. All total worth it though." - Nadia.

2 - The first Beastie to be created…

Book of Beasties is an easy to learn card game for up to five or six players, in which they must help as many Beasties as possible. Each character represents a manifestation of anxiety, depression and corresponding features. The more Beasties you choose, the longer the game will last: but where did it all begin?  

The first Beastie to be created was Akky, a Beastie who feels very bad about himself. He has low self esteem and he can’t bring himself to stand up straight, which makes him feel even worse. Akky is characterised by a low mood, loss of interest, self neglect and fatigue. Sometimes, his muscles are sore, and he has experienced changes in weight and muscle tension.

- Akky -

“Akky is the Beastie who needs to find self confidence. But he feels so bad about himself that when adults talk to him about what might make him feel better, he doesn’t engage with the conversation. So instead of talking about all the big things that can or might change, conversations with Akky start small and focus on encouraging good posture.  

“We know that standing tall and performing a simple upper body stretch makes us feel more confident, so this is a suggested activity. Akky was the first Beastie to be drawn because his feelings are common experiences for people with poor mental health. And because people with low self esteem may also struggle with a range of mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders, exploring self esteem was the natural place to start creating our characters,” says Phil Tottman, Founder and Co-Creator, Book of Beasties.

3 - No plug-ins required

Book of Beasties is a complete resource. It is portable and practical - and requires no ‘extras’ to get started. So no, it doesn’t come with character plushies, tiny game pieces or even a screen that needs to be charged. It’s just a game.

All you need to get started is the card game and accompanying book, your child (or group of children) - and 20 minutes to an hour of your time. There is an e-learning portal for teachers that is stocked to the brim with resources, teaching tools, lesson plans and information about the characters and tips on playing the game.

The Mental Wellness Card Game can be used anywhere

Book of Beasties is designed to be easy to use, transport and access- to be played and enjoyed in any location or situation. We designed it without a digital interface because we believe the hero of the game is the conversation itself, and that the best, most insightful and meaningful  conversations happen face to face.

Learn more about the Beasties and our Wellness Heroes here.

Sign up to a FREE Wellness Webinar (saving £30) here and you will also get FREE access to the Book of Beasties e-learning portal.