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WHY DID IT HAPPEN? by Janice Cohn

WHY DID IT HAPPEN?

Helping Children Cope in a Violent World

By Janice Cohn (Author) , Gail Owens (Illustrator)

Age Range: 4 - 10

Pub Date: March 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-688-12312-0
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

 This earnest story by the psychotherapist who wrote I Had a Friend Named Peter: Talking to Children About the Death of a Friend (1987) is not really about why Daniel's friend Mr. James gets a broken arm when his store is robbed. Although Daniel's father offers some generalized answers (e.g., ``Some people have a special kind of problem that makes it hard for them to know right from wrong''), the question is more a classic cry against injustice. It's about the feelings aroused in a child when violence touches someone close and how they can best be addressed. Daniel's parents find out the real facts, encourage verbal and nonverbal expression of his feelings, and provide a punching ball for him to vent his anger; when he dramatizes capturing the robber, he's encouraged to find an alternative to guns, even in play; when Daniel is reluctant to return to the store, Mr. James reassures him with a home visit; and so on. The thorough explication, extended even further in a sensible five- page introduction, is heavy-handed for a story, but Cohn carries it off in a smooth telling that's nicely enhanced by empathetic full-bleed art rendered in warm, rather sober hues. For a more imaginative (yet equally serious) treatment of the impact of violence on children, see Eve Bunting's Smoky Night (p. 300). (Picture book. 4-10)