Not in Room 204: Breaking the Silence of Abuse

Not in Room 204: Breaking the Silence of Abuse

5.0 2
by Shannon Riggs, Jaime Zollars

At a report card conference, Mrs. Salvador tells Regina's mom that Regina is doing a great job, but that she is very quiet. Regina thinks of the secret she keeps so quiet—the one even her mom doesn't know, about the secret things her father does.


At a report card conference, Mrs. Salvador tells Regina's mom that Regina is doing a great job, but that she is very quiet. Regina thinks of the secret she keeps so quiet—the one even her mom doesn't know, about the secret things her father does.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Gwynne Spencer
In room 204, Mrs. Salvador does not tolerate cheating or lying or slobs. In room 204 there is zero name calling, and unauthorized appropriation of Halloween candy is severely dealt with. Similarly, rude remarks, fighting, and snotty behavior are not allowed. When Mrs. Salvador is reading a book to the class about "stranger danger" she adds an impromptu comment that, "It's not always strangers who touch children in ways they shouldn't be touched." This one hits home for one of her students, Regina Lillian Hadwig, who hesitantly reveals her secret (which is not overtly revealed in the story) to the teacher who has told her "she knows exactly what to do." The book is aimed at kids in elementary school and does an admirable job of opening the door for helping victims of sexual abuse tell teachers they need help or advocacy. The front note lists the Childhelp USA hotline. It also recommends Darkness To Light ( which offers prevention training and a one-sheet poster that ought to hang on every teacher's lounge bulletin board in the world. It lists "7 Steps to Protecting Our Children" which are 1. Learn the facts, understand the risks; 2. Minimize opportunity; 3. Talk about it; 4. Stay alert; 5. Make a plan; 6. Act on suspicions; 7. Get involved. While all teachers are required to report abuse, when there are no visible signs and no reporting by the child, it gets somewhat trickier. Perhaps things will be better in schools if they all have a copy of Not In Room 204. Reviewer: Gwynne Spencer
Children's Literature - Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger
On the first day in school, Mrs. Salvador lets her class know that some things will not happen in Room 207. Children will not do less than their best. There will be no name-calling. Students will not take things that do not belong to them. Regina likes Room 207. She likes Mrs. Salvador. Mrs. Salvador tells Regina's mother what a bright girl Regina is, but Mrs. Salvador is a little worried about Regina being so quiet. Regina is quiet in school. She is quiet at home, too. She is so quiet there are things she does not even tell her mother. One day, Mrs. Salvador reads a book about Stranger Danger. Mrs. Salvador tells the students that strangers should not ever touch any part of their body a swimming suit covers. Then Mrs. Salvador explains that sometimes a child is touched not by a stranger but by someone the child knows very well. This worries the class a little. Mrs. Salvador reassures them by saying, "If someone told me this happened to them, I know exactly what to do to help." But can Regina believe her? Can she tell Mrs. Salvador her secret? This is a book that should not be necessary, but is. Riggs handles the topic with care and a gentle touch. A child struggling with the issue will find comfort in Regina's hope at the end of the story. The text is prefaced with a note about child sexual abuse.
School Library Journal

Gr 1-3
After a lesson on stranger danger, Mrs. Salvador tells her students that if someone touches a child "in ways they shouldn't," she knows exactly what to do. Quiet Regina Lillian Hadwig has a secret, and she sits up and takes notice, eventually confiding in her teacher. The illustrations are warm and inviting and provide an imaginative subtext through the other students' antics. The message of the book is a comforting one, that at least some adults can establish a safe environment, be consistent, and always know what to do. However, when the teacher asks Lillian if she has been touched inappropriately, the child nods, and the teacher again promises that she knows "exactly what to do." Leading a child in a disclosure of sexual abuse is a questionable practice and, as any mandated reporter knows, once a report is filed, what follows is out of the teacher's hands entirely. An introductory note reminds readers that prevention "is an adult's job" and provides a link to Darkness to Light, an excellent organization that teaches adults how to prevent and respond to child abuse. The audience for this picture book may well be adults, who will be reassured and hopefully inspired by Mrs. Salvador's example of firm boundaries lovingly enforced. In the right hands, this story could open discussion with children about sexual abuse or let a child know that there are adults who will listen. For slightly younger children, Peter Ledwon's Mia's Secret (Tundra, 2006) encourages telling without leading the child or implying promises that cannot be kept.
—Carolyn LehmanCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
Regina Lillian Hadwig loves Room 204. Her teacher, Mrs. Salvador, makes sure that all of the children follow the rules. Desks are kept neat, wisecracks are not allowed and there is no fighting. "In Room 204, we keep our bodies to ourselves," Mrs. Salvador says. When the class does a unit on Stranger Danger, Mrs. Salvador mentions that it's not only strangers who touch children in ways they shouldn't be touched, and tells the class in no uncertain terms that she knows exactly how to help if any of them has such a problem. When Regina comes in early the next morning and reveals that her father has been touching her inappropriately, Mrs. Salvador repeats that she knows exactly what to do, and unburdened and relaxed, Regina is now ready for a new day at school. Overall, the text is strong and graceful, the story manages to avoid proselytizing and appealing illustrations grace the pages. If the ending is pat, it may serve a purpose: comforting readers. A good choice for parents and teachers who plan to address safety and molestation with children. (Picture book. 5-8)

Product Details

Whitman, Albert & Company
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.20(w) x 10.10(h) x 0.30(d)
690L (what's this?)
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

Read an Excerpt

Not in Room 204

By Shannon Riggs, Jaime Zollars


Copyright © 2007 Shannon Riggs
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8075-5764-8


On the first day of school, Mrs. Salvador said, "At home, when your parents tell you to clean your rooms, you might shove dirty socks under the bed and heap toys in the closet, and you might get away with it."

The children in Room 204 smiled secret smiles.

"But not in Room 204. Here we keep our desks neat."

Some of the children fidgeted, but Regina Lillian Hadwig sat up straight.

"In other places, you might get away with less than your best work," Mrs. Salvador said. "But not in Room 204."

Jack Galvin and Trevor Jensen smirked.

"In Room 204, if you turn in work that isn't your best, I'll give it right back to you and you'll have to do it over."

Jack whispered, "I think I'll move my desk into the hall."

Mrs. Salvador heard. "Mr. Galvin, you might get away with whispering wisecracks to your neighbor in other classrooms, but not in Room 204."

"In other places," she continued, "you might get away with name-calling. You might even call someone 'stupid' or 'dumb.' Not in Room 204. In Room 204, no one is stupid. I've seen your report card from last year. I know."

Mrs. Salvador folded her hands neatly behind her back.

In October, in Room 204, Amanda Zadatowski ate Brenda Levitt's Halloween candy without asking.

Mrs. Salvador sent a note home to Amanda's mother.

In November, the class went on a field trip to the aquarium. Just loud enough for everyone to hear, Melanie Dickson said that the tour guide looked like a whale. Regina Lillian Hadwig shook her head with disapproval.

Mrs. Salvador said, "Miss Dickson, children in other classes might get away with making rude remarks, but not the students of Room 204. The students of Room 204 show respect. Please apologize, and then you will be my partner for the rest of the day."

Mrs. Salvador led Melanie to the front of the line.

Report-card conferences were at the end of the term. Regina Lillian Hadwig took a seat beside her mother.

"Regina, I am very pleased with all of your written work. You always do your best. You are a very bright girl," Mrs. Salvador said.

She cocked her head to one side and pursed her lips the way she did when she was grading papers at her desk and thought no one was looking. Regina Lillian Hadwig was always looking.

"Are you quiet at home like you are in school?" Mrs. Salvador asked.


Excerpted from Not in Room 204 by Shannon Riggs, Jaime Zollars. Copyright © 2007 Shannon Riggs. Excerpted by permission of ALBERT WHITMAN & Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Not in Room 204: Breaking the Silence of Abuse 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Many kids' books dealing with serious issues are hampered by stilted, awkward, and heavy-handed writing. But author Shannon Riggs handles the weighty topic of sexual abuse with a deft, light touch. She says exactly what needs to be said, no more and no less. And Jaime Zollars' illustrations complement the text wonderfully. So don't judge this book by its cover (which is kind of lackluster), because Riggs and Zollars have created a real gem here. It's not just a good 'issue book.' It's a good book. Period.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have two young girls and found childhood sexual abuse a difficult but necessary subject to discuss with them. I came across this book, which allowed me to discuss stranger danger as well as danger than can from from a friend, babysitter, and relative. It's not graphic at all and has a wonderful story line leading up to the issue at hand. Thank you Riggs and Zollars!