________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 3 . . . . September 30, 2005


Wishes and Worries: A Story to Help Children Understand a Parent Who Drinks Too Much Alcohol. (Stories for Children, No. 2).

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). Illustrated by Ben Hodson.
Toronto, ON: CAMP, 2005.
32 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 0-88868493-2.

Subject Heading:
Children of alcoholics-Juvenile fiction. Grades 1-4 / Ages 6-9.

Review by Linda Ludke.

***/ 4


Once Dad was upset late at night. I thought it was because of my report card. He was crying and things were thrown around the room. It was a mess! Now I see that he was sad and angry because he had been drinking.

I wish I had known then that I didn't make him upset - that it wasn't my fault.


 Maggie's father arrives late to her eighth birthday party, drops the cake and then falls asleep before she opens her presents. At school the next day, her friends whisper about her father’s being drunk. Maggie confides in a trusted teacher who explains, "Some people who drink too much can't stop and end up saying and doing things that really hurt people they love." Through family counseling and open discussion, Maggie comes to understand that her father's drinking is not her fault.

     The story is told from Maggie's point of view, in child-appropriate language. She worries that she is the cause of her parents’ arguments and is concerned that when she grows up she might also have a problem with alcohol. Maggie's father seeks counseling and works very hard to deal with his alcoholism, but he has setbacks. The ending is hopeful, but realistic: "I know it will be really hard for him to stop drinking forever. There will probably be more ups and downs." Maggie is resilient, and with the warmth and support of her family, she knows "it's not my problem to figure out. I'll stick to figuring out math."

internal art

     As the book was produced by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), many health professionals as well as families with first-hand knowledge offered input on the text and illustrations. For children who feel that their "family is different," this title encourages discussion. Ben Hodson's watercolor illustrations depict a contemporary, diverse community. An "Information for Adults" page offers suggestions on how to talk about substance abuse issues with children. An "Information for Kids" page provides young readers with a list of "people you can talk to," including the phone number for a Canadian Kids Help Line.

     Well-written and engaging, Wishes and Worries is a good addition to bibliotherapy collections.


Linda Ludke is a librarian in London, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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