CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 16. . . .December 21, 2012
Nine-year-old Jason has behavioral issues. Mom is abusive (as was Dad, but he has abandoned the family), and no matter how hard Jason tries to be good, it seems that Mom doesn't love him. At school, Jason picks fights with other kids—so that they will leave him alone—but nothing he does seems to prevent his "bubble of mad" outbursts. Mom arranges for him to be sent, unwillingly, to a group home where Jason is afraid of many things: Will the staff punish him when he does bad things? Will they refuse to feed him? Will he never see his family again?
Told in first person present tense using a hi-low format, Jason's account is both illuminating and moving. Jason is upset to be sent away from the only family he has ever known, but he is pleasantly surprised by the kindness and fairness of the adults he now encounters. Granted, if he tantrums, they place him in restraints (so that he won't hurt himself or others), but they don't hate him, hurt him, or yell at him. And he learns that it is possible for other kids to like him when he uses words and humor as an alternative to fighting.
The question of audience is a bit problematic. The book's bibliotherapeutic uses are obvious; others in Jason's situation will no doubt find it useful, especially if they encounter group homes operating on the same high level as the one depicted here. Jason's Why may also be useful for regular education children encountering students like Jason in their own classes—although it would be unfortunate if readers assumed that all behavior-challenged students come from the same background as Jason. Despite these concerns, this title is recommended for Jason's honest portrayal of a child learning to cope with a difficult life.
Kay Weisman, a longtime librarian and reviewer, now writes "Information Matters" for School Library Monthly and is a youth librarian at West Vancouver Memorial Library.
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other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.