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For Michael Ian Black, life finds a way of informing art.

The actor and comedian has quietly established himself as a prolific children’s author; earlier this year, he published his eighth picture book for young readers, I’m Sad, which serves as a sequel to his earlier title I’m Bored. This installment centers on a girl, a potato, and a (very) sad flamingo star, and sends the message to kids that sometimes, it’s okay to feel a little blue.

Black spoke about the book’s origins on PeopleTV’s Couch Surfing, and particularly how it stemmed from a lesson he recently learned as a parent. “This book is about how I learned as a parent [that] sometimes you can’t,” he says. “It’s not even necessarily your job to make it better. They’re just going to be sad sometimes, and that’s okay.”

It might be a difficult idea to get across, in an era of social media and heightened technology. “It’s something I had to learn, and I think it’s something my wife had to learn,” Black admits. “I feel like a parent has [only] two jobs: Help your [kids] feel that they’re loved, and two, make them feel safe.” Also important: Giving your children the tools for self-reliance.

Accordingly, Black hopes the book resonates not just with younger readers, but adults as well. “There’s so much pressure not only on kids, but on parents, just to be the perfect parent. And you can’t be.”

I’m Sad is available for purchase.

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