Child Abuse Awareness
For more than a decade, April has been recognized as Child Abuse Prevention/Awareness Month. During April, public and private agencies, community organizations, volunteers and concerned citizens unite to highlight the problem of child abuse and to educate the public about how it can be prevented. Communities across the country offer special activities to raise public awareness of child abuse prevention. Activities include fundraisers, such as 5K runs/walks to raise money for child abuse prevention programs, poster contests for children, "Family Day" at local zoos, wearing the blue ribbon/mint green ribbon, and special conferences by child abuse prevention organizations. Child abuse is a community concern. No one professional or single agency alone can protect children from harm and strengthen families. Prevention of child abuse demands that everyone--Federal, State, and local governments, as well as community service providers, teachers, businesses, health care professionals, clergy, families, friends, and neighbors--work together to protect children and support the well-being of families. The preceding information is from http://www.geocities.com/Wellesley/9691/april.html where many links and other important materials can be found.
Resources and more information:
National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information
330 C Street, SW
Washington, DC 20447
Fax: (703) 385-3206
Call 1-800-4-ACHILD (1-800 422-4453) any time day or night.
The Art of Mending
Read by Joyce Bean
Although the subject matter deals with family secrets revolving around an emotionally abusive mother, Berg's account is not so graphic or brutal that listeners should be alarmed. Following the sudden death of their father, two sisters and a brother are forced to explore their memories of familial patterns to expose the cover-up. Bean's narration involves some vocal distinction between characters, but not a great deal of emotion. The reasoning behind the abuse is plausible, although at first the ultimate resolution doesn't seem quite convincing. But then, mending broken relationships is an ongoing process. The material is a good starting place for discussion about not-so-obvious abuses. Category: Fiction Audiobooks. KLIATT Codes: SA--Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2004, Brilliance, 5 tapes. 6 hrs.; Vinyl; plot, reader notes., $69.25. Ages 15 to adult. Reviewer: Sunnie Grant (KLIATT Review, September 2004 (Vol. 38, No. 5)).
B for Buster
Narrated by Jeff Woodman
Sixteen-year-old Kak--fleeing a drunken, abusive father--is all raw eagerness when he lies his way into the Canadian Air Force, determined to change himself "from a boy to a hero." But, like the wings of a plane, his world begins to tilt the first time he sits alone in the cockpit of a bomber and hears a phantom voice in the fuselage. "What's the course?" it whispers, "What's the course for home?" Woodman's malleable voice is more than a match for the mélange of ages, attitudes, and accents (Canadians, Australians, and Brits) that make up the insular world of the airfield crews and he carefully tracks the emotional arc as well as the action when high spirits give way to boredom, then anticipation, then anguish. Lawrence's airborne view of World War II is as lavishly detailed and grittily authentic as any of his swashbuckling sea adventures and every bit as engrossing. 2005, Recorded Books, $54.85. Ages 14 up. Reviewer: Kristi Jemtegaard (Children's Literature).
Claiming Georgia Tate
With a strong voice and vividly rendered sense of place, twelve-year-old Georgia Tate narrates a story of surviving sexual abuse that is, necessarily, also a coming-of-age tale. Despite the fact that this book is being marketed as a young adult novel, it is not a story for twelve-year-olds--not even for young teens. Little may be taboo in YA subject matter these days, but it is not only the difficult emotional material that makes the reviewer hesitant to recommend this book to anyone younger than sixteen. The hesitation comes also from how the story is told. Set in Mississippi and Florida during the 1970s, the book unfolds the history of sexual abuse of Georgia by her father, which culminates in a scene in which he rapes her. The narrative makes moving use of poetic indirection to circumscribe many difficult events, but also reports overheard language with brutal frankness. The writing is well-observed and has an expansive sympathy; the intimate, first-person voice is believably enough a young teen's voice. Yet the accrual of details, the way the voice lingers on certain moments and perceptions and passes over others, seems strikingly constructed to satisfy an adult sensibility. There is something in this voice that whispers of an adult looking back to comprehend a terrible childhood experience. In the final chapters, the narrative shifts toward a more YA feel when a group of odd minor characters, introduced in rapid succession, and with some heavy-handed political correctness, helps Georgia regain her way to what turns out to be a relatively safe universe. While many teenagers may find the emotional territory covered in the narrative threatening or overwhelming, this could be a moving book for any person who has suffered similarly, to read as part of a healing process, or for an adult book group discussion. 2005, Candlewick, $7.95. Ages 16 up. Reviewer: J. H. Diehl (Children's Literature).
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
SIBA Book Award Nominee 2006 United States
The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds: A Drama in Two Acts
First published in 1970, the themes of Paul Zindel's Pulitzer Prize-winning play are still relevant today. Tillie is the hopeful protagonist, working toward her educational goals in an effort to escape the chaos of her home. Tillie's mother, Beatrice, is cruel and mad; abusive to her children and to the old woman who boards with the family. Ruth interrupts the chaos with her epileptic fits and alternates between supporting her sister and winding her mother up. Tillie's pain and fear are at the forefront of the story, as she struggles to succeed in the school science fair and receive positive recognition for her man-in-the-moon marigolds. Tension between the characters reaches its height on the night of the fair, when a last minute insult from Ruth causes her mother to remain home in shame. Beatrice's act of retaliation is shocking and brings the play to its disturbing conclusion. The compelling characterizations and plot work together to make this play the classic that it has become. 2005 (orig. 1970), HarperTrophy/HarperCollins, $6.99. Ages 14 to 18. Reviewer: Mary Loftus (Children's Literature).
Books for You: An Annotated Booklist for Senior High, Eighth Edition, 1982; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
Books for You: An Annotated Booklist for Senior High, Sixth Edition, 1976; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
The Ghost Horse of Meadow Green
Anne Louise MacDonald
Kim has the "Disease"--the one that gives your dreams four hooves and a flowing mane. While horses are the subtext of this complicated story about a child growing into herself, they are also the best part of the book. Kim's ultra-shy character and her willingness to risk exposing herself to save an abused animal are convincing and exciting. The rest of the characters are less well-rounded, and the story is so complicated that the resolution comes too easily. Slug is the bully who targets people and animals; Colm is the self-absorbed dad who is perpetually angry; Tim is the good guy who befriends Kim and confirms her ability with horses; Gramma-Lou is the perfect grandmother who is slipping away from Kim because of Alzheimer's. Most of all, there is the mystery about the family house Kim now lives in and the crazy man who died there and who might have been her great-grandfather. Still, the story flows evenly; it is well-written and will definitely appeal to readers with the "Disease." 2005, Kids Can Press, $16.95. Ages 10 to 14. Reviewer: Diane Carver Sekeres, Ph.D. (Children's Literature).
Young readers enthralled by horses and mysteries will gallop through The Ghost Horse of Meadow Green by Anne Louise MacDonald. Long-repressed family secrets start to surface when Gramma-Lou comes to live with Kim and her parents. Suddenly Kim begins catching glimpses of a ghostly palomino. How are the horse and her grandmother connected? And then there's a real horse, abused by a teenage neighbor, that badly needs her help. This powerful story revolves around the mistakes that, unless addressed, seem doomed to be repeated by subsequent generations. Thankfully, Kim and her father are able to break the cycle--and welcome a horse in the process. 2005, Kids Can Press, $16.95. Ages 10 to 14. Reviewer: Mary Quattlebaum (Children's Literature).
Littlest One is an apprentice dream giver whose playful spirit drives her mentor, Fastidious, away. But with the help of Thin Elderly she is fast learning how to touch objects, harvest good associations and memories, and deliver them to humans as they sleep. In chapters alternating between fantasy and reality, we meet young John who is placed in the home of a kind old woman to recover from the abuse he has suffered at the hands of his father. Because he is so vulnerable, the Sinisteed begins to attack his dreams to deliver powerful and unsettling nightmares. Thin Elderly and Littlest One must strengthen John each night to withstand the Sinisteed's attempts--or worse, that of the Horde. The novel is elegantly and sparingly written. The pacing is taut and the characterization surprisingly full given the length of the book (140 pages). 2006, Houghton Mifflin Company, $16.00. Ages 10 to 14. Reviewer: Joan Kindig, Ph.D. (Children's Literature).
A Home for Foundlings
Marthe Jocelyn's curiosity about her orphan grandfather led her to delve into the history of England's most famous orphanage, the Foundling Hospital. Her fascinating saga begins with its creator, Thomas Coram, who spent ten years in the American colonies before returning to London to make his fortune and then dedicate it to philanthropy, opening his royally-chartered home for foundlings in 1749. The early years saw the fashionable classes taking up the cause--unfortunately quite often as a freak show, watching bereft mothers abandon their babies by lottery. Along the way, Handel's Messiah gained its fame by being performed at the Hospital's chapel, and William Hogarth designed the establishment's logo and uniforms. Jocelyn continues her exploration through the centuries, outlining meal plans (only a cut above Oliver Twist's workhouse; Dickens was a visitor, too); reporting the statistics on death and disease; and following the youngsters into their apprenticeships and domestic service. The Foundling Hospital finally closed in 1953, a casualty of the new social services, but its influence remains in lives and literature. The book is hard to put down--Jocelyn tells her story well. For a view of the same subject on this side of the Atlantic, see Catherine Reef's Alone in the World: Orphans and Orphanages in America. 2005, Tundra/Lord Museum Book, $16.95. Ages 10 up. Reviewer: Kathleen Karr (Children's Literature).
A House Between Homes: Youth in the Foster Care System
Five year old Bobby and three year old Kara have learned that they have to do things for themselves because their mother will not. Their mother cares about her friends more than her children. She easily gets upset about simple matters and would hit the children to try to get them to listen. The children were also sworn to secrecy not to tell anyone about their mother's ways. Not even their father knew how things had become since he was away in the Navy. These little children as well as others live in a world where their worst nightmares become reality. If their circumstances are made known, the department of social services (DSS) can be of great help. Children can be placed in foster homes where they will be safe and well taken care of. The courts and the DSS work together to try to put families back together. But this is not always the best and sometimes children are able to be adopted by loving families who will better care for them. Reading this book gives one the understanding of the foster care system and the history of it. This well written book helps the reader comprehend the different aspects of the foster care system and how they work. Teens, parents, and teachers would benefit from reading the interesting information in this book. This book is part of the "Youth with Special Needs" series. 2004, Mason Crest Publishers Inc, $24.95. Ages 13 to adult. Reviewer: Cathi I. White (Children's Literature).
The Life All Around Me by Ellen Foster
As its unusual title suggests, Gibbon's sequel to her novel Ellen Foster, a 1997 "Oprah's Book Club" selection, revolves around a fictional character who creates fiction--poetry which she sells to underachieving classmates for much-needed funds to further her own arts education--to try to create a future for herself that is different from her past. Having survived the trauma of her earlier years at the hands of an unstable mother and an abusive, alcoholic father--and now orphaned--Ellen's first person story resumes as the plucky heroine, age 15, writes a letter to the president of Harvard asking for early admission on account of numerous achievements, not the least of which is "all the surplus living that was jammed into the years." Luckily for Ellen, she is now living in a home that at last offers her stability, security, and the love of her foster mother Laura. But in spite of the welcome calm after the storm, Ellen and those around her realize that a small North Carolina town isn't the place for a girl of such fierce determination, independence, and intelligence. While the book may be a bit weak in plot development, the characterization is strong. Gibbons artfully uses a stream-of-consciousness narrative style and sharp, idiosyncratic dialogue to portray Ellen's unique worldview. The pleasure is not in reading to find out if Ellen succeeds in finding her way in a larger world, but in how she works to further her education and achieve a different life, as well as her reactions to the people and situations she meets along the way. 2006, Harcourt, $23.00. Ages 16 up. Reviewer: Dianne Ochiltree (Children's Literature).
Nothing to Lose
Michale Daye's step-father was physically and verbally abusive. Michael Daye's step-father was killed. Michael's mother, Lisa Monroe, is on trial for the murder of her rich husband. Since his step-father's death, Michael fled for work at the carnival that was in town. When the carnival visits Miami again, Michael has this overwhelming urge to see his mother and to tell what he knows. Could what Michael knows change his mother's fate? The story is told in the present and past tense, alternating by chapters. The protagonist is heartfelt and compelling, and the reader cannot help but feel for Michael's mother due to her history of violence. A year after the murder, Michael is 17 years old. He is learning about the law, about reality, about running, and about his first love. The twists and turns in this story make for an excellent read. 2005, Harper Tempest/HarperCollins, $6.99. Ages 15 up. Reviewer: Kelly Grebinoski (Children's Literature).
With quotes based on numerous magazine articles, this biography of "one of the most powerful brand names in entertainment industry" invites a wide range of reader types. Short, punchy sentences do not gloss over her early years--raised by her grandmother, molested by older family members and others, a bookish child in spite of no support. Oprah Winfrey has inspired millions of people on her talk show and the book shows how she received mentoring and made strong friendships as she rose to prominence. Numerous boxes of "It's a Fact" convey bits of information about Oprah, the times, while captioned photographs of Oprah (starting in high school, one assumes, because there are none from her early years) and others break up the page. Short sections, plenty of white space, and above all, Oprah Winfrey's positive attitude, invite less able readers to keep on reading. Glossary, index, source notes for quotes, many websites, and a bibliography are included. 2005, Lerner, $27.93. Ages 10 to 16. Reviewer: Susan Hepler, Ph.D. (Children's Literature).
Singer in the Snow
A professional singer and degreed musician herself, the author has created a believable world in which the power of the human voice is the channel for psi energy. Those able to tap into this extraordinary energy are essential on the "ice planet" of Nevya, where summer occurs only at five year intervals. They provide the lifesaving heat to keep the people and their protected compounds alive during the prolonged periods of extreme cold. There are even itinerate singers who travel with those who must go beyond the confines of the various Houses. The newest Conservatory-trained Cantrix, Mreen, is being sent to the House of Tarus to take over the position of a retiring Cantor. Mreen is most unusual in that she cannot utter a sound but is able to channel her energy through her playing of the filla. She uses "finger signs" to communicate with those who do not have the "gift" and cannot communicate telepathically. (ASL signers will be fascinated with this aspect of the book.) Her traveling companion, Emily, can sing and play beautifully but cannot channel her psi energy to create heat. Of course, as the story line progresses in this well-developed and realistically described world, they discover their own tremendous strengths as they endeavor to help a young child who has the "gift" but is being mistreated by her cruel stepfather. This title is set in the same world as Sing in the Light, Sing the Warmth, and Receive the Gift. With well-developed characters and enough of a variety of subplots, this fantasy addresses the very human emotions of those facing the unknown, difficult family situations, and the development of skills to deal with the universal problems that young adults face as they venture into the world of adulthood--no matter what kind of planet they inhabit. The pace is well defined and the story line includes enough action to keep the pages turning to the satisfying ending. 2005, Viking/Penguin, $16.99. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Sheilah Egan (Children's Literature).
Somebody Hear Me Crying: Youth in Protective Services
Ryan has a secret. He cannot tell his friends about it. He is not excited about it as most thirteen-year-old boys may be about a secret. His is a secret that no one must know. His secret is one of shame--one of how his family really lives. Ryan comes from a home with an alcoholic mother and an abusive father. Daily he struggles with his mom's drunkenness, abuse, a filthy apartment, and the lies he must tell others to cover up what really is going on. He dreams about living a "normal" life like his friends. But he knows that it is a nearly impossible dream for him. However, one day Ryan discovers that his mother has passed out and he cannot wake her up. He has to call for help. Through the doctors, counselors, and Child Protective Services (CPS) Ryan discovers a whole new world he didn't know existed. This informative book tells how Child Protective Services helps abused children like Ryan. They also try to help families get back together if that is what is best. While reading this book, teachers, parents, and children will learn how to look for signs of abuse, how to report abuse confidentially, and how CPS works to help families. It is part of the "Youth with Special Needs" series. 2004, Mason Crest Publishers Inc, $24.95. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Cathi I. White (Children's Literature).
Jennifer Richard Jacobson
A timely book about faith and love and a priest with a past and the teenagers who have suffered both directly and indirectly at his hands. Jocelyn, the protagonist, brings two story lines together as the functional center of a triangle. Jocelyn is scarred by her father leaving, by being the unpopular kid, and by her friend Gabe keeping her at arm's length. But just as Jocelyn is vulnerable, so are both her boyfriends, Benny and Gabe. Both Benny and Gabe turn to Father Warren for help and find treachery instead. His treachery is significant on two levels: first, just by being an adult he wields power over adolescents, and, second, as a priest, that power is amplified by his supposed representation of God. This story reads well simply as a mystery--it is just a good story--but the layers of meaning make it far more than that. 2005, Simon & Schuster, $16.95. Ages 14 up. Reviewer: Joan Kindig, Ph.D. (Children's Literature).
Best Books for Young Adults, 2006; American Library Association-YALSA-Adult Books for Young Adults Task Force; United States
Best Children's Books, 2005; Publishers Weekly; United States
Kirkus Book Review Stars, March 1, 2005; United States
Publishers Weekly Book Review Stars, February 21, 2005; Cahners; United States
Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes
After years of fighting humiliation for being overweight, Eric Calhoune, alias Moby, begins swimming in high school. Moby describes his absent, overweight father, "(he's) not a guy who should have gone light on desserts and between meal snacks...(but) a guy who should have spread Glue on his lips before showing his face outside his bedroom each morning." Weight and wit have bonded him in long-term friendship with Sarah Byrnes, a girl who has faced the shame of horrible facial burn scars she's borne since the age of three. Against a swimming backdrop Crutcher places the issues of shame, narrow-mindedness, and abuse. Once the story takes hold you move along at such a rapid clip that by the end you're holding on for dear life. 1993, Greenwillow, $16.00, $4.50 and $2.49. Ages 13 up. Reviewer: Susie Wilde (Children's Literature).
The story opens with seventeen-year-old Savannah so tired of her stepfather's abuse, she hits him over the head with a skillet and does not even notice getting burned with the hot butter. All she knows is that she was not going to let Jack hit her eight year-old brother, Henry. She and Henry quickly pack, take the car, and head for New York City on a bus. The first stop is an old boyfriend's apartment near New York University. Their journey to their great aunt's in Maine, pursuit by an angry Jack and their oblivious mother, an encounter with the police for car-theft and kidnapping, and the revelation of Savannah's real father are narrated by Savannah. Intertwined with Savannah's narration is a third-person account of her mother's, Alice's, teenage years leading up to Savannah's birth. A great read, this novel will hook readers in the first sentence and keep them turning the pages. Alice's intense story, written within Savanna's story, contains a few descriptive scenes illustrating the consequences of unprotected sex. 2005, A Debra Brodie Book/Roaring Brook Press, $16.95. Ages 14 to 18. Reviewer: Charlotte M. Krall (Children's Literature).
Booklist Book Review Stars, Apr. 1, 2005; United States
Strong at the Heart: How It Feels to Heal from Sexual Abuse
More than a half million young people are sexually abused or assaulted yearly in this country. Abuse crosses all social, racial, geographic, economic, and cultural borders. The stories here are compelling, each with its individual winding path to healing. As stated in the introduction, "This book is like a healing circle that anyone can join." Conversational in tone, the essays reflect the individuality of the survivor. The raw emotion is heartbreaking. "I was so naive and trusting, it never crossed my mind that something bad could happen," writes Jenner of the date rape she experienced before tenth grade. "The rape didn't derail my life, but it did change me," writes Kelly of the attack after eighth grade. From thirteen-year-old Jonathan, abused by the parish priest, to young Tino, molested by his grandmother, there is a universality of emotions uniting the essays. All speak of their experiences with the aftermath of the abuse, the dangers of keeping it secret, and the healing involved with counseling. Some received immediate counseling, whereas others, such as Akaya, suppressed memories of the abuse until adulthood. Tammy met with several different counselors before a trusting connection was made. Each chapter begins with a full-page photo of the author, giving each story a face and an identifiable presence. There are sixteen pages of resources including books, movies, Web sites, and help organizations. Although this collection might not be for everyone, it will undoubtedly touch a nerve, offering insight and hope for many. VOYA CODES: 3Q 4P J S (Readable without serious defects; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2005, Melanie Kroupa Books/Farrar Straus Giroux, 176p.; Photos. Further Reading., $16. Ages 12 to 18. Reviewer: Marian Rafal (VOYA, October 2005 (Vol. 28, No. 4)).
Rape, incest, child molestation, abduction, and clergy abuse are just some of the forms of sexual abuse that are revealed in this book The stories of nine courageous people are uncovered for the world to see These heart wrenching stories will make the reader want to cry out for help for the individual they are reading about The reader will feel apathy with the emotions that these innocent victims felt Find out about how Jonathan spent much of his time with the church only to be abused by someone he trusted, one of the priests See how Tammy turned to drugs to try to ease the pain of being used by her step-father Read the incredible story of how Kelly turned her abuse story into a film to help others Learn how each person coped with their own abuse and how they are healing Many have the help of friends and family, and some the help of professionals This powerful and emotional book will help readers who have gone through similar situations gain strength and courage from the amazing stories that are told This book could be a wonderful tool to any teenager who has experienced the guilt and shame of sexual abuse to lead them in the direction of healing The book offers information about books, movies, and organizations that can also help abuse victims. 2005, Melanie Kroupa Books, Ages 12 to 18, $18.00. Reviewer: Cathi I White (Children's Literature).
When Ratboy Lived Next Door
Maywood, Indiana in 1962 is a quiet place. Sixth grader, Lydia Carson, is hoping for a girl her age when a new family moves in next door, but is disappointed when the only girl is four years old and the sibling who is her age is a surly boy named Willis Merrill. Woodworth develops the theme of abuse through these two characters. Willis and his siblings are being physically abused by their father and Lydia is emotionally ostracized by her mother. Lydia's great aunt is the person they all turn to for emotional and physical support. Nanna reveals the secret of Lydia's mother's previous marriage and Lydia's half-brother who is now dead, helping Lydia and her mother to forge a new relationship. Nanna also encourages Willis' stepmother to take the children and leave town when Mr. Merrill is sent to jail for beating his wife. The topics of abuse and alcoholism are dealt with lightly, but with emotional candor, perfect for intermediate readers, many of whom are dealing with these issues in their own lives. There are no easy answers, but Woodworth manages to end the book on a hopeful note, even given the uncertainty of the future. For a first time author, Woodworth develops character, plot and setting into a very readable book for middle readers. 2005, Farrar Straus Giroux, $16.00. Ages 10 to 14. Reviewer: Wendy M. Smith-D'Arezzo (Children's Literature).
State and Provincial Reading Lists:
Georgia Children's Book Award, 2006-2007; Nominee; Book; Georgia
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