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Visit to the Big House
     

Visit to the Big House

by Oliver Butterworth
 
When Willy, Rose, and their mother go to visit Daddy in prison, they are quite anxious. But once Daddy appears and they can talk and ask questions. "This sober work of bibliotherapy attempts to articulate the emotionally confusing experience of youngsters with a parent in prison . . . The designated audience will no doubt receive it with enthusiasm." -- Publishers

Overview

When Willy, Rose, and their mother go to visit Daddy in prison, they are quite anxious. But once Daddy appears and they can talk and ask questions. "This sober work of bibliotherapy attempts to articulate the emotionally confusing experience of youngsters with a parent in prison . . . The designated audience will no doubt receive it with enthusiasm." -- Publishers Weekly

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Despite a perhaps flip title, this sober work of bibliotherapy attempts to articulate the emotionally confusing experience of youngsters with a parent in prison. Nervous about visiting their incarcerated father for the first time, Willy and Rose bombard their mother with questions (``Is he going to have chains on his arms and legs?'' Will he be wearing ``those pajama things with big stripes?''). Butterworth ( The Enormous Egg ) takes pains to depict a functional family coping with a serious problem, and to eschew harmful stereotypes. In view of the subject matter, however, a fair amount of moralizing laces the text (which was originally published as a pamphlet for prison families in Connecticut), as evidenced by the drawing Willy makes after the visit--``He looks a little sad because he's not at home with us. But not too sad, because he's doing the right thing, and he's learned something.'' Avishai's ( Sophie and the Sidewalk Man ) skillful pencil illustrations reinforce the text's family-oriented message, depicting tender interplay among the characters. Though the specialized subject matter will limit the book's overall appeal, the designated audience will no doubt receive it with enthusiasm. Ages 7-10. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
This book was inspired by the author's visit to a program that finds visitors for prison inmates. The story centers on Rose and Willie who are preparing to visit their father in prison for the first time. They are full of concerns and questions. Their mother answers everything sincerely and finds comparisons to help them understand difficult concepts. She reminds Willie of the time he took bubble gum and returned it and then draws the parallel, "Your daddy took something that didn't belong to him, and going to prison is a way to make up for what he did." The author doesn't give easy answers. Every step is awkward and difficult, but to present it any other way would destroy the honesty of this book.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-- Rose, her younger brother, and their mother go to visit their father, who is in prison. Their mother explains that he ``took something that didn't belong to him'' and is making up for what he did (with a two-year prison sentence), but that he is not a bad person. The prison visit is realistically grim and sad, but the children are somewhat reassured that their father is being treated humanely and is still part of the family. This story was originally distributed by social service agencies in pamphlet form and it probably worked better as such. As a picture book, it lacks solid characterization, a strong plot, and competent art. Black-and-white charcoal illustrations are uninspired, and the subject matter will not appeal to a general audience. However, where there is a need for material on this topic, this volume is serviceable. --Jacqueline Rose, Southeast Regional Library, NC
Stephanie Zvirin
Another in the growing number of bibliotherapeutic stories for young children put out by mainstream publishers, this one, first published as a pamphlet, is both attractively illustrated and touching. It also concerns a subject rarely treated in children's books--a parent in prison. Rose, her five-year-old brother, Willy, and their mother are going to visit the children's father in "the Big House," where he's just begun a two-year sentence. The children are nervous: Willy wonders what Dad's being given to eat and if he's really a "bad" man; Rose is afraid of being branded by her father's mistake and worries that the guards won't let her out once she's inside the prison. With patience and tact Mama explains away the children's fears: Daddy did something wrong, but he's not a bad man; prisoners don't wear chains or "pajamas with stripes." Butterworth's text destroys a number of widespread notions and quietly alludes to some of the problems the family faces with Dad away, but it gives little sense of the multicultural makeup of prisons, or of the tedium of prison routine. Still, its portrayal of the children's conflicting feelings rings true, and Avishai's expressive black-and-white drawings depict with great sensitivity the awkward reunion, the easing tension, and the difficult parting.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780395528051
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
Publication date:
03/01/1993
Pages:
48
Product dimensions:
6.51(w) x 9.31(h) x 0.44(d)
Age Range:
7 - 10 Years

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