Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Addressing OCD with Young Readers - Kidlit Author Natalie Rompella Talks About her New Picture Book by Eileen Meyer


I'm delighted to welcome author Natalie Rompella here today to share her thoughts about researching and writing her new picture book about OCD, which comes out later this month.

1. Tell us a little bit about your newest picture book coming out with Albert Whitman & Co., MALIK’S  NUMBER THOUGHTS: A Story about OCD

Malik’s obsessive-compulsive disorder means his brain wants him to do everything on the count of four. When he’s invited to a mini-golf birthday party, Malik is excited. But he worries about his Number Thoughts. If he has to take four tries to get the ball in the hole, he’ll never win—and everyone might make fun of him. Can Malik say “no” to his Number Thoughts?

2. This seems like such an important picture book for young readers  because it includes good strategies for dealing with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Can you share more:

Yes, it was important to me that young readers who have OCD could see themselves in this book. When I set out to write it, I realized that I could not convey (especially in a low-word-count picture book) someone with OCD receiving a diagnosis, working through treatment, and reaching a point at which he or she implemented strategies successfully. I chose to start the book when Malik has already been in treatment and is applying what he learned to a new situation.

 I wanted to feature an activity many children enjoy that could be difficult for someone with counting OCD. I chose mini-golf—a favorite in my family. I also wanted to have a spread where Malik creates his own practice course—something I have done in my classroom that can be a blast!

I hope that someone who has just been diagnosed with OCD as well as someone working on strategies can see that he or she is not alone.


3. This is your THIRD book about the topic of OCD. Can you share a bit more about why this topic is important to you, as well as information about your earlier work?

 The first book I wrote on OCD was a nonfiction book for teens titled It Happened to Me: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder [Scarecrow Press]. This book contains narratives from teens with OCD and offers information, such as types of OCD, types of treatment, and tips for handling OCD in college. Book link here:

Because of all my research for that book, as well as because I have OCD, I decided to write a middle grade novel, Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners [Sky Pony Press], where the character is coping with her OCD. I wanted this book to be both a mirror and a window—a chance for kids with OCD to see themselves in the book and a chance for kids who don’t have OCD to understand what it’s like. Find Natalie's novel here:

4. With your detailed research and experience, do you have any special advice for teachers who work with students or parents who have children with OCD?

 I am not a therapist/psychologist. However, as a teacher and a parent, I would suggest reaching out to the parents for how you can help. There are so many great books out there. I recently did a talk about Cookie Cutters for kids with OCD, and they appreciated reading about a character who was going through things they had gone through.

Mention that writing can be therapeutic and suggest that the parent help the child pick out a journal in which to write down whatever he or she wants—unwanted thoughts, goals, poetry, stories, etc.

5. Tell us something we don’t know about you, Natalie! Do you have a favorite guilty pleasure TV show, hobby, or a favorite food?


Through my research and writing, I fell in love with watching/following sled dog racing (featured in Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners)…I even attended the start of the Iditarod.

Any spare time I have is spent playing pickleball—it is how I clear my mind. As for favorite food: yellow cake with buttercream frosting. And I am sometimes called The Bug Lady because I collect and study bugs for fun.

THANK YOU, Natalie, for joining us today on the blog.

Natalie Rompella is the author of more than sixty books and other resources for children, including Malik’s Number Thoughts: A Story about OCD, a picture book addressing obsessive number thoughts; Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners, a middle grade novel about OCD; and It Happened to Me: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, a nonfiction book about OCD for teens. She is a former elementary school and middle school teacher. Natalie lives with her two kids, husband, and dog in the Chicago suburbs, where she enjoys playing pickleball, baking, and hanging out with her family. 

Find out more at

If you’re interested in a school or library visit, contact me at


Twitter: @NatalieRompella




  1. Such an important topic to address for kids with OCD and parents and caregivers. Ty, Eileen and Natalie!

    1. Thank you, Kathy! I am excited about Natalie's new PB for young readers on this important topic!

  2. I'm so excited to see Malik's Number Thoughts come out in print. My granddaughter loved Cookie Cutters, and the book helped her understand kids with OCD.

  3. Natalie's new book looks terrific! I look forward to reading it.