Guest Author - Bonnie Sayers
Child of Mine is written and illustrated by Carrie Hartman through Maren Green Publishing, Inc. Their motto is "Books Good for Young Children". The recommended age starts at five and is geared to siblings, parents and caregivers of children who have learning disabilities, challenging behaviors and emotional health issues.
The author wrote Child of Mine from her experiences with her daughter Sophia. The pages take the reader through the emotional highs and lows parents and children live and deal with during challenging times of behavior incidents. The first two pages are green and filled with inspiring phrases by kids and adults. They are repeated on the last two pages as well with a green background. Some of these include, "you need to keep trying", "I know sweetie, I know..." and "Let's do it together". It would have been nice to see these snipets along with the illustrations within the book to convey a stronger message to the reader.
Through these illustrations the reader will gain an understanding of how a parent also feels when a child is in the midst of a behavior incident. Both parent and child struggle with feelings of pain and agony while going through the extremes emotionally. By the time a behavior has subsided all parties are exhausted.
The limited text tends to be at the top and bottom of each colorful page in a variety of fonts. The expressions and emotions of the parent and child on the pages change on whim, along with the background color of each page. Child of Mine starts off with the girl prancing about catching butterflies in a net amidst pastel colors.
She is content to paint and sing some tunes, but very quickly that mood can turn into something very dramatic with vivid red colors showing her face looking quite perplexed. The text states, "you become ANGRY and I don't know why". The girl has her mouth wide open on the following page in the middle of a yell while tossing her teddybear.
Next the mother is standing outside the door deep in thought wanting to help, but not knowing what to do to console her child. Then there are two pages that I did not really connect with showing the mother in a bubble crying for her child and praying for her. There is no real connection the Mother is making with the child and no mention of what set the child off in the first place.
The next pages explore the feelings and emotions of the parent wanting to make childhood easier for the girl and then feeling guilty for wanting things to be different for both of them. Then it seems the Mother recalls the good times when the girl brought her flowers and appreciates the curiousity and hugs. It is then that the mother reflects that she is a better person because of the child being who she is.
The mother and girl are lying on a couch with colorful pillows as the mother reveals that the child will find a way to have a beautiful life. The mother believes in her child and so it will be.
The book does show what transpires during an emotional event, but it lacks showing how the child got to that stage and how the parent helped the child out of the behavior. The terminology never acknowledges the behavior or discusses the ways a parent or caregiver can help their own child. It shows how the parent is feeling as a result of the behaviors displayed by the child. Missing is the antecedent and consequence to help comprehend the ABCs of behaviors.
My son Nicholas is a high functioning thirteen year old that read through Child of Mine and said that the expressions on her face show that she is angry and other times she is happy, but not how she got that way. He felt that the book is for very young children who are starting to read since there were only a few words on each page. He said that the book did not really help him understand why his brother screams. " Instead I refer to what he did prior to his screaming. This book does not really explain much. I don’t really understand these moral things. Some of the colors were interesting and most were weird."
At the end of the book is an author's note that is very helpful to the reader, but should have been placed at the front of the book. Many books specifically geared to children about disabilities will include tips for the parent. This would have been a welcome edition to Child of Mine and made the book easier to follow for children of various ages.
Overall the pages were very colorful with an interesting color scheme for the array of behavior issues. It was nice to see the text change according to the temperament of the child and the placement of the text.
I thought the targeted audience was a bit confusing as it mentions on the jacket cover that “parents of challenging children will relate to the emotions” and then later “Children who struggle with disorders, disabilities or behavior issues” and in the author’s note the term mentioned is, “parent of a spirited child”. The cover indicates Child of Mine is a “ picture book for parents of challenging children” - so to me this term is used twice and the one that stands out to me, moreso than specifically for parents and families of children with disabilities.
I am not fond of the term “spirited child” in the author’s note. I was not convinced of the “message of hope” that the note suggests this book conveys. I would give this three out of five stars. It is a good start to showcase behaviors in children, but falls short in explaining how they occurred and what transpired to break away from that mood. A tips chart of words relating to behavior issues and the ways one could help a child would make the book stand out for siblings and parents to share with others.
When I googled the term I found the common response was either “strong-willed” or “difficult” and that spirited child refers to their temperament. That term spirited child confuses me and is one that turns me off.
I also did not like the way the Mother was on the outside looking in at her child and could not embrace her or acknowledge the issues the child was facing and try to comfort her. There seemed to be no repercussions for the throwing of the items or discussion afterwards. Emotional health issues was mentioned in the author's note but not explained.
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