A BANGOR primary school teacher has unveiled his second children’s book which, like the first, has become a tool in teachers’ arsenal of promoting mental health and wellbeing.

Joe Richardson, who works at St. Malachy’s Primary School, has just published The Animal in Amy’s Mirror, which has been described as a ‘terrifyingly good adventure filled with magic, mystery and laugh-out-loud moments’.

It is bursting with animal facts and carefully woven strategies to help children manage their emotions, and follows his debut book, The Animal in Amy.

Both books feature Amy Cupples and her best friend Jamie, who love nothing better than solving mysteries and making the best of the girl’s secret powers – the abilities of an animal’s speed, strength and invisibility.

Joe describes the sequel as a little darker and even scary in parts, but maintains that its theme is friendship, laced with animal facts and hilarious capers throughout.

In Amy’s second adventure, she finds herself wrestling with her emotions again and trying to keep secret her amazing animal abilities, but all the while children in her village have been mysteriously vanishing from their beds during the dead of night. 

“Amy’s eccentric grandfather believes it is the work of the beasts within the reflection. Amy has no doubts that she must venture into the world within the mirrors, face these beasts and rescue all the children,” he explains.

When Joe set out on his writing journey, he said he couldn’t have envisioned how much of an educational tool his books would become. 

Stressing that The Animal in Amy series is about fun and mystery, he said he ‘is finding that schools are latching on to the mental health themes subtly laced throughout the books in a fun and relevant fashion’.

The debut has proven a resounding success and is particularly popular in schools throughout Northern Ireland. 

“The book is utilised in 20 schools for class novels, guided reading groups, and personal reading tasks,” he said.

The positive mental health strategies employed throughout have resonated with schools, with the stories’ main protagonist, Amy, using various methods to regulate her emotions, cope with challenges, deal with frustrations and control her anger.

Joe says: “Amy delicately introduces techniques to control her emotions. She demonstrates when a child might need to apply a strategy and how to do so. The mental health of our children and its importance has come to the fore over recent years. 

“Call it a legacy of lockdown, the impact of social media, screen time or gaming. But there is now a great awareness to build the resilience of children and equip them with the tools to manage their emotions best.”

“In today’s modern world of screens, demands, constant stimulus and challenges, it is more important than ever that we equip children with the tools to manage their emotions and tackle their problems. Schools now place greater emphasis on actively teaching strategies and skills to best allow children to regulate their emotions.” 

Joe points out that he worked with the illustrator and publisher to select the most dyslexia-friendly text font, size, and spacing, also electing for an off-white page colour, making the story accessible to every reader.

Purchasing details can be found at