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Why Did It Happen?: Helping Children Cope in a Violent World

Why Did It Happen?: Helping Children Cope in a Violent World

by Janice I. Cohn, Gail Owens (Illustrator)

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
``This book is meant to be read and discussed with children after a violent event has occurred or when children are simply grappling with the implications of living in a violent world,'' explains Cohn in her thoughtful introductory note to parents. She emphasizes the importance of encouraging youngsters to communicate their anxieties and fears about violence, and suggests ways to help them to develop empathy. An ideal springboard for parent/child dialogue, Cohn's lengthy read-aloud story introduces six-year-old Daniel, whose special friend, Mr. James, owns a small grocery store. Daniel is very upset after a robber enters the store, steals Mr. James's money and, during a struggle, breaks his arm. Cohn uses Daniel's conversations with his parents--and later with his teacher and classmates--to discuss why people commit such violent acts, as well as ways of dealing with the feelings that violence engenders. A psychotherapist, the author imparts specific, practical information for both young and adult readers. Affecting pastel pictures contributed by Owens (who also illustrated Cohn's I Had a Friend Named Peter: Talking to Children About the Death of a Friend ) greatly enhance the impact. Ages 3-up. (Mar.)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-Daniel's friend owns the neighborhood grocery store. When Mr. James is injured during a robbery at his store, the six-year-old child must deal with fear and anger. Helped by his parents, teacher, classmates, and Mr. James himself, Daniel learns how to cope with his feelings. An introduction aimed at parents explains how they can help their children understand the existence of violence and develop compassion and empathy in spite of it. Cohn presents the issue in a sensitive and generally nonthreatening way. The actual assault is never shown and the injury is not serious; just enough is described to initiate discussion. The full-color pastel illustrations provide a comforting view of Daniel and Mr. James's story, as well as of the multicultural community. Given the presence of violence in almost every community, the topic will, unfortunately, be familiar to most readers. An excellent book for both school librarians and parents to share with their young children.-Mary Rinato Berman, New York Public Library
Deborah Abbott
ger for reading aloud. Cohn tackles a timely issue that few children's books address. When young Daniel and his mother discover that Mr. James' grocery store has been robbed and Mr. James' arm broken, Daniel is angry and worried. Daniel's father explains why people steal (some don't know the difference between right and wrong, some were abused as children and are angry at the world, some use drugs and alcohol, which affects their actions) and offers positive outlets for expressing emotions. Daniel pounds his punching bag to show how he feels about poor Mr. James. When Daniel has a nightmare, his parents comfort him. Although not ready to return to the store, Daniel draws a picture for Mr. James. Later when Daniel and a friend play a robbery game in which one child "shoots" the other, Daniel's parents suggest the boys think of other, more appropriate choices for solving that confrontation. A classroom scene in which Daniel's teacher discusses feelings, and a reassuring visit from Mr. James, who tells Daniel about the preventive measures he has taken in his store and the wealth of goodwill he has felt since the robbery, round out the book. Although the text is a bit stilted, the rich color drawings, against golden backgrounds, provide a warm setting for the complex problem. A detailed note in the front, examining the emotional issues of violence and children, with specific strategies for helping youngsters, is a plus. Recommended as a first step toward dealing positively with an explosive and devastating topic.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.21(w) x 10.35(h) x 0.37(d)
Age Range:
3 - 8 Years

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