Sunday, February 22, 2015

An Upbeat Take on Remarriage

Mom, Dad, & Everyone Else

Written and Illustrated by David Dickerman
Crafty Canuck Publishing
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, 2014

Reviewed by Laura Harting

Image copyright 2013 Crafty Canuck and David Dickerman
“In the beginning, there was just Mom, Dad and Me.”  So begins this upbeat new book about divorce and remarriage.  Written from the perspective of a young child, this book addresses the changes that may occur after a divorce, when Mom and Dad meet new partners and remarry.  This young child remembers what it was like when the family included just the three of them and then goes on to share about how the family grew to include step-parents, step-siblings, aunts, uncles, new neighbors, half siblings and many more.  With each new family addition, this child has interesting new and enjoyable experiences. However, important family traditions (like birthday parties) remain intact while including more people and more fun.

This is a good book for a young child, (pre-school and early elementary) whose parents have begun to introduce new partners into their children’s lives.  It focuses on the benefits of new family and friends and the positive way new people can influence a child’s life.  It is illustrated in a unique manner by using modeling clay.  It is not entirely clear whether the child at the heart of the story is a boy or a girl. Though I like the colorful pictures of the clay models, I found myself wondering, as I looked at the pictures, “Why does everyone just have a head, and where are their bodies?”  I would be interested to know if the children who read this book wonder the same thing. 

Laura Harting, LCSW, sees young clients at her office in Paoli, Pennsylvania.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Helping Children Manage Their Homework

Image copyright 2008 Sue Rama
Where Am I Sleeping Tonight?
A Story of Divorce

By Carol Gordon Ekster
Illustrated by Sue Rama
Boulden Publishing
Weaverville, California, 2008

Reviewed by Laura Harting

A fourth-grader named Mark struggles with the challenges of being a responsible student while having parents who are divorced.  “Which house is my homework at anyway?” he wonders. Mark is afraid to come to class again without his assignment, as the words of his teacher saying “Fired! Fired! Fired!” ring in his ears. 

Written by a retired fourth-grade teacher, this nicely illustrated 24-page paperback deals with how to help children of divorced parents manage their school responsibilities.  Only an experienced and compassionate teacher could offer these helpful insights on ways to address this particular struggle for children. As Mark grapples with how to stay organized and remember his homework while living and sleeping in two different houses, he wishes he was a first grader again, like his brother Evan. The younger boy’s life seems so much easier, and Mark begins to feel resentful toward his parents who caused the whole problem by getting divorced in the first place. However, by the end of the book Mark becomes solution-focused. He begins to discover ideas for becoming more organized and responsible. Having mastered his homework problem, he even looks forward to hearing “Hired! Hired! Hired!” from his teacher.

This book is a good read for older elementary school-aged children on how to solve problems and manage their school lives while living in a shared custody arrangement. It is also a good reality check for parents and step-parents. Reading it might help these adults become more sensitive to the peculiar difficulties and challenges that young children face following a divorce. 
Laura Harting, LCSW sees clients
at her office in Paoli, Pennsylvania.