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Joel In A Hole ... and how he got out

Updated on November 23, 2016

A note from Joel...no longer "in a hole"

Joel in a Hole’ was designed specifically to open up conversations between both children and adults regarding emotional frustrations and challenges that are difficult to verbalize. The key element is to help put definition to the feelings of anger, sadness, happiness, hopelessness, pain, and guilt by using metaphorical illustrations in both picture and word play. The story is simple but provides an "icebreaker" to create a starting point.

Read the book first, and then, answer some of the questions that follow. Feel free to respond with any reaction in the comment section. This is a work in progress…the desire is to help others get out of their “hole” in a fun and open way.

Why does Joel look like an egg?
Why does Joel look like an egg? | Source
Joel was sad and mad...not glad!
Joel was sad and mad...not glad! | Source
How did Joel get here?
How did Joel get here? | Source
Maybe, Joel was pushed!
Maybe, Joel was pushed! | Source
What kind of pain did Joel feel?
What kind of pain did Joel feel? | Source
What's inside the bags of garbage?
What's inside the bags of garbage? | Source
At first the garbage felt warm.
At first the garbage felt warm. | Source
Joel wants the music, but how?
Joel wants the music, but how? | Source
Joel builds stairs using His pain.
Joel builds stairs using His pain. | Source
Everybody falls in a hole sometimes.
Everybody falls in a hole sometimes. | Source
Joel helps a friend.  Would you?
Joel helps a friend. Would you? | Source
Reading Between The Lines
Reading Between The Lines | Source

Ask, Laugh, and, Relate

Here are some questions you might want to ask of yourself or to somebody you are reading the story to. There is a lot “written” between the lines…the response to the questions is where the conversation begins. Sometimes, providing a method of emotional transference, allows for an emotional distraught person to move the attention away from themselves. It becomes much easier to talk about feelings and solutions when the focus is on someone else. In this case...Joel. In a group setting, the range of answers may become a way for another person to relate without having to formulate an awkward response. Expect a lot of laughter and some very enlightening opportunities.

Page One and Two:

  1. Why does Joel look like an egg?
  2. Did you ever feel like you were in a hole and couldn't get out?
  3. Have you ever meet someone like Joel?
  4. Do you think Joel will ever get out of the hole?

Page Three and Four:

  1. How did Joel feel?
  2. Why did Joel whisper?
  3. What was Joel afraid of?

Page Five and Six:

  1. What’s the first thing did Joel did?
  2. If Joel tripped, what do you think he tripped over?
  3. Did Joel get into the hole on purpose?
  4. Do you think it might have been somebody else’s fault that Joel was in the hole?

Page Seven and Eight:

  1. What pain were the bricks made out of?
  2. Is this Joel’s hole or somebody else’s?

Page Nine and Ten:

  1. Do you think being in the hole could get any worse?
  2. Why does garbage stink?
  3. What do you think was in the bags of garbage?

Page Eleven and Twelve:

  1. Is it easier to stay in the hole?
  2. Did Joel give up?
  3. Why did Joel want to get out of his hole?

Page Thirteen and Fourteen:

  1. Why didn’t “whispering” help Joel?
  2. After Joel “Yelped”, what did he do?

Page Fifteen and Sixteen:

  1. Did Joel give up?
  2. What did Joel want?
  3. What do you think the “music” was?

Page Seventeen and Eighteen:

  1. What’s the first thing Joel did?
  2. Did Joel build a set of stairs all at once?
  3. When Joel got close to the top of his hole…do you think he started smiling?
  4. Why did Joel want to build stairs?
  5. What "words" are now "missing" and why?

Page Nineteen and Twenty:

  1. Oh, no! What did Joel see on the other side of his hole?
  2. How did Joel finally get out?
  3. What do you think is going to happen to the girl?

Page Twenty-One and Twenty-Two:

  1. Do you think the girl became Joel's friend, and why?
  2. Why does it look like they are climbing a hill?
  3. Why are they both smiling?
  4. Do you think Joel might fall in a hole again?

Reading Between the Lines

There are no right or wrong answers...only opportunities. The object is to let the reader or listener translate in their own words what they see, hear, or feel. The amazing thing is, each time the story is read, how the story changes according to the response to the questions.

Bring Joel to Life

Bringing "Joel" to life allows an opportunity to connect.
Bringing "Joel" to life allows an opportunity to connect. | Source

"Joel in the Hole" Supplemental Activities

1. Hard-boil some eggs. After reading the story, using markers, each participant draws a "Joel in the Hole" character. Allow each person to retell the story using their character. You will find that their "egg" will speak freely as if it is not "them".

2. Provide scraps of paper to each participant and allow each person to write down an example of something painful, an example of "garbage", and an example of a "favorite" thing. Using an empty coffee can, (representing a "hole"), put each of the examples inside the can and shake it up. Let each person then, pull out one of the responses and talk about it.

3. Hand out crayons or markers and pre-printed coloring pages of an egg instead of using a "real" egg. Encourage them to draw "Joel". This allows participants to take their home a memory of "Joel in the Hole" and sharing the story with others in their own words. The object is for them to not only relate, but also help others.

More Adventures of Joel

Joel certainly has a lot of adventures...sometimes he needs some help.

Joel Writes a Story

Here are some other "Joel" stories I am developing in the hope to help. Just like "Joel in a Hole", the main character has a problem and, sometimes with the help of others, he learns a solution.

"Joel Goes Out on a Limb": Joel learns that taking a risk can be both a good thing and a bad thing. Joel learns to make a plan and to 'think' before you leap. He also learns to put to good use, his curiosity.

"Joel Runs Away": Joel learns about fear and how to deal with it. He learns that facing his fear doesn't always hurt. In this story, Joel uses his imagination to relate to several fearful situations.

"Joel Finds a Penny": Joel learns about stealing the hard way. Joel learns about working, stealing, giving, and saving. In a group exploration of this story, each person is given a penny and use it to play a supplemental role playing game.

I Need Your Help

Yes, I know, the graphics have a lot to be deisred! But, I am convinced that this story is well worth sharing. If you think so too, is there anything you can help me do? I need a graphic artist.

My heart breaks as I look back over the horrifying years of struggling with depression and not being able to explain to people how I felt. And now, I look around and see so many others suffering too. I want to reach them…especially kids and their parents. (and teachers, and siblings, and friends). I need criticism and help editing future "Joel" materials including supplemental activities.


Walking Together
Walking Together | Source

Joel takes a poll

Have you ever fallen into a hole, like Joel?

See results

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