Again we have an important topic, totally appropriate for teen collection in a public library. However the cover art is just dated and more than a little odd. It looks like our abuser is trying to lift her up by the belt loops. I get the feeling they wanted a threatening cover, but not “too” threatening. I absolutely think this book is a weeder just on the cover alone. Regardless, I would also like to point out the “don’t blame the victim” speech followed by the comments about how dressing a certain way sends the wrong message. (Just to be fair…)
I know these materials have costs but old is not better than nothing. I also know that some of our local women’s shelters have pamphlets and other resources that should augment your collection as well. Teens deserve something more current than this.
Submitter: When I was perusing our juvenile section for a book for storytime, I stumbled upon this; another children’s book about “bad touching.” I think the title makes it worse! After I submit it here, I’m going to put it on the chopping block for weeding (as an academic library, we should have books like this for social work students, but not one this old). What’s extra weird is the book was written in 1997 but the illustrations are from 1985. I’m not sure what sort of message this will give kids–it may be helpful for a social worker to give to a child who has been abused, but the illustrations are creepy enough to scare any child.
Holly: I don’t know, I think the pictures are kind of cute. Hey, Mary – they’re like PRESCIOUS MOMENTS FIGURINES! That’s exactly what they look like! Mary LOVES Prescious Moments. Anyway, there’s just no un-creepy way to present this material. That last picture with the guy and the little girl is particularly disturbing, though. Look at the kittens! They are horrified! At least they spun the title positive…
Submitter: Once again this book was found in the last weeding of the children’s room collection. It was found located in the parenting section and not regular picture books, but that is no excuse. If you just go by the cover, it comes across as just another book about elementary school, but that is not the case. It is the story of a new teacher who teaches her students about personal space, self-respect and the dangers of bullying, but then it becomes clear that one student, Regina, has a very, very, horrible problem…she is being molested by her father. There is actually a 2 page spread of the student at home! One side she is playing with her naked Raggedy Ann doll in bed and on the other side, she is huddled under the covers crying as the dark shadow of her father walks away. It is truly disturbing and dark and one wonders who this book was published for. On the one hand, it does encourage children being abused to tell a trusted adult (like a teacher) if they are being hurt BUT you can’t just read this to any child – it would have to be a very specific child in a very specific situation or else you could be causing nightmares, I would think anyway. In the end, the reader is led to believe that Regina gets the help she needs, but honestly I was too creeped out to read every page to get the whole story. I think that 2 page spread will haunt me for awhile.
Holly: There just aren’t any good ways of writing children’s books about difficult subjects, are there? They all include some sort of creepy picture that hints at the dark situation. I don’t know enough about child development or child psychology to say, so my question is: Do small children NEED to see pictures like these to understand and/or identify with the story? It seems to me that they would need to see the actual thing happening, which no publisher is probably going to include in a picture book (although we’ve seen some incredible things here at ALB…). That’s why doctors and counselors use puppets to indicate “bad touches” – so the child can actually SEE the body part being touched without having to experience it themselves. No? So do books like these do more harm than good because they aren’t explicit ENOUGH, or do they cross a line by being TOO explicit? My second question, then, is: Do these pictures only creep out adults who understand what’s being implied in them?