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?