Saturday, March 31, 2018

Family changes: Explaining divorce to children by Azmaira H. Maker, illustrated by Polona Lovsin

I don't normally review titles not available through my primary vendor, Baker and Taylor, but I made an exception for this one since it's on a topic I'm specifically looking for more materials on.

The book begins with a note to parents, explaining how storytelling can be a good therapy tool and how to use it when talking with children about divorce. The main story is about a cute and cuddly bunny called Zoey. She's super excited about her school's magical activities, but all through the day, from searching for chocolate carrots to visiting with the wise fairy owl, she keeps remembering things that worry her. Things like scary words she doesn't know, like SEPARATE and DIVORCED. But at every moment, her mother, father, or the wise fairy owl are there to explain things to her. It's not her fault, her parents both still love her very much, her parents will still take care of her in both homes. Change is hard, but with her parents' help Zoey will be ok.

The book ends with a list of further discussion questions for parents to talk about with their children. I was very attracted to this by the illustrations; this is where a lot of small presses seem to fall down, but the illustrations are sweet and professional, showing a fluffy bunny, warm and caring bunny parents, sparkling feathers, and other bunnies enjoying activities like sliding down rainbows and chasing sparkles.

Which is something that didn't really click for me - this story is rather, well, blandly magical if that's a word. I can see kids getting really distracted by all the sparkles and rainbows and losing track of the story. It's also very text-heavy, which isn't unusual for titles in my parenting collection, but I can't see reading this to a wiggly preschooler. A sample sentence, "Zoey laughed and laughed as she held on tightly to the beautiful deep-blue feather covered in sparkles and pretty gems."

I'm still hunting for a more realistic divorce book; many, if not most, of the families I am searching for resources for do not have this type of amicable, reassuring divorce; one or both parents are often absent and there is a lot of family strife and chaos. Often the father is suddenly gone and only peripherally, if at all, involved with the children.

Verdict: For what it's meant to do, i.e. be used as a therapy tool by parents and therapists working with very young children, this is quite good. The illustrations are strong and the story, if read in small chunks, would probably start some good conversations. It's not quite what I'm looking for, but would make a good addition to your parenting collection if you're trying to add more divorce materials. It is available from the publisher or Amazon (I can't speak to Ingram, but they often have more small press or self-published materials available so it might be on there).

ISBN: 978-0996194105; Published 2015 by Aspiring Families; Review copy provided by the publisher

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