My Backpack Pal is not just a written book with a doll included. It was borne from personal experience and a need to assist others in their own personal journey. As a child entering elementary school, my family went through many changes, and it affected me greatly. I, Chris Stella, felt as though I was losing my "home" in a sense that what I had known to be those loved ones in a place of safety and warmth was evolving into something unrecognizable to me. My mother had gone back to work as an educator, my house was physically changing via construction, my grandmother had moved in, and as a child much younger than my older siblings, the act of entering into any new activity left me feeling lonely and unsure of myself due to the fact that my "home" was not there as a safety net. These changes and feelings are normal for many, but I had a difficult time dealing with the loss of my "home" as even minor obstacles and opportunities would present themselves.
I gave my mother, who was attempting to enter back into the workforce in education, a difficult time...kicking, screaming, crying, forcing myself to physically be ill, just to stay home from school and other activities.
This lasted for months, on and off. My mother finally contacted the school and set me up with one of the Social Workers there. Her name was Mrs. Figlioli, (Ravioli to me because Figlioli was too difficult for me to remember). She suggested a technique I now know as Object Transference. The idea of using something familiar from home to travel to school with, that gave me comfort and that feeling of "home." For me, it was my tub of blocks I would spend hours at home building with. I was allowed to bring some with me in my bag as a source of a reminder of home and an activity that I could do alone with great comfort. After seeing and talking with Mrs. "Ravioli" for just a couple of days along with the possession of my blocks, the fear of being alone subsided and I was entering the school not as a child in turmoil anymore, but as a child who saw an opportunity to meet new kids and share my blocks with.
My Backpack Pal is a book that discusses the various obstacles children might feel that make them apprehensive and/or even fear entering into new situations such as school. The "Pal" is the Object of Transference used to comfort children. They have possession of an object that, via the book, has the ability to take their worries away as well as be a familiar item/friend from home. This item of comfort and excitement is intended to assist in the transfer from home to school and other areas outside the home.
(Co-Author/Illustrator) Chris Stella - I am an educator of 15 years with a Masters degree in Education and Administration. I reside with my wife in Red Bank, NJ. I have taught Middle School(grades 6-8) as well as High School(grades 9-12) I received my Bachelor degree from Georgian Court University and my Masters degree from New Jersey City University. I am a proud father and husband. I have an art background and minor training which led me to self-illustrate.
(Co-Author) Robin Socol-Stella - I have worked as a teacher, Consultant, and literacy Coach for over 10 years. I earned my BA from George Washington University, a Masters from Monmouth University and a post-grad degree from New Jersey City University. I live in Red Bank, NJ with my husband and daughter.