MY FATHER‘S BEAST: Battling the Bottle.

Workshops Available:

“Telling the Untold Story”.


     Master author, illustrator and storyteller, Gail E. Haley has created a book about substance abuse in contemporary family life. The book uses allegory in which the ‘beast’ takes over a parent during active abuse.

     As a progressive disease the ‘beast’ becomes more and more powerful until it controls the abuser’s life. Children who observe this transformation often become confused, hurt, angry, distanced and alienated.

     Many children growing up in such circumstances find it difficult or impossible to communicate their experiences, fears and pain. This process can cripple them emotionally, psychologically and impair their ability to concentrate at school, placing them at greater risk.

     MY FATHER’S BEAST and the workshop based upon it [Telling the Untold Story] is a strategy that encourages children and alcoholics to articulate their situation to counselors and caregivers without guilt or fear of reprisal.

Intended Audience:

     Counselors, teachers, caregivers who work with children from dysfunctional families, particularly those with alcohol/chemical abuse and dependency.

Length of Workshop:

     One day.

Objectives/ Goals:

     -Participants will explore the role of storytelling as therapy & catharsis.
     -Participants will practice the manipulation and presentation of narratives [characters, settings, conflict, crisis, resolution] using die cut figures created by the author/artist.
     -Participants will explore techniques for helping children use their own figures, collages, sets and backgrounds to express themselves and their own circumstances.




     The context for the workshop is consistent with what we know about the therapeutic value of storytelling and the contribution art and personal expression can make to the healing process.

     The book has already begun to provoke reaction from children and adults. At an educational conference in Nashville, the presenter took a break. A woman in the audience approached the display table at the front of the room and picked up MY FATHER’S BEAST. A few moments later she approached the presenter: “that was my father”, she said. As she walked back up the aisle, she paused, turned to the presenter and said, ‘I have 14 years of sobriety myself”.

     In rural North Carolina a teacher used the book with 6th grade students. Their teacher said:
The students listened closely and were amazed at the illustrations. They wanted to touch the pictures because they look so real. One student said, ‘I really wanted to reach out and touch different parts of it’. Another indicated that, ‘ the illustrations were awesome. The story was great too. It sounded as if there really was a beast, instead of a person’.

     Since the tactile pictures had aroused the curiosity of the students, the teacher engaged the class in an activity using Haley’s paper cut collage technique to develop their own book about bullying.

     This sensory response to the picture was exactly what the artist wanted to achieve. At the back of the book she writes: “to represent a diversity of experiences I created the illustrations as a patchwork of collage using cut or torn pieces of paper. All the papers were made by hand from natural fibers such as rice or mulberry”.








Substance abuse is a major problem in the United States. Risk factors have been identified that serve as predictors of substance abuse. Researchers have also identified protective factors that can create or build resilience and resistance.
     *The American Academy of Pediatric’s Committee on Public education, has identified television and other media and a possible negative influence in the area of substance abuse.
     *A correlation has been documented between exposure to music videos with images of alcohol consumption and underage drinking among teens.
     *The Office of National Drug Control Policy at the White House has monitored alcohol consumption in music, movies and TV.
     *The Center on Alcohol Marketing & Youth has established that young people under the legal drinking age are a major target of alcohol marketers.
     *Studies have suggested that the more alcohol brands children can name, or jingles they can sing, the more likely they are to experience early onset of drinking.
     *Predispositions to drink may actually be in placed by 3rd and 4th grade.
     *Research indicates that young children are “cognitively defenseless” against marketing & manipulation.
     *Alcohol manufacturers spend $5.7 billion per year on marketing and promotion.
     *A 2006 report in Pediatrics concluded that children’s exposure to beer commercials “represents a significant risk factor”.

About Gail E Haley:

The workshop presenter is an award winning author and illustrator of distinguished children’s picture books, having received both the Caldecott medal and the Kate Greenaway medal

She was a Writer in Residence in the College of Education at Appalachian State University for many years where she taught writing and illustrating for children and puppetry courses.

MY FATHER ‘S BEASTBooking a Workshop:

If you are interested in hosting a workshop based on MY FATHER’S BEAST contact the author directly:

You can call [828] 758- 5379 or write to BEAST Workshop C/ O Gail Haley P O Box 1027 Blowing Rock, NC 28605.