When it comes to children of divorce, one thing that has changed in recent years is the number of books available for and about children of divorce. In many ways, this is a step in the right direction, but with more availability comes more need for discernment about good vs. bad resources. At Divorce Ministry 4 Kids, we are committed to helping you to sort out the good from the bad. With that in mind, we continue review these resources to give you our thoughts and opinions.
In today’s installment, we are reviewing a book called Was It The Chocolate Pudding? Come back on Wednesday for an interview with the author and a combined pdf copy of both the review and the interview.
I have been looking forward to reading this book since I first heard about it. Let’s face it, the title and cover art are catchy. Plus, as someone who works with kids, I can almost imagine a child, in a timid voice, asking “Was it the chocolate pudding?” So, I was curious to see how chocolate pudding relates to divorce and hopeful that I could add another book to my list of recommended reading for children experiencing their parents’ divorce. Was It the Chocolate Pudding?: A Story for Little Kids about Divorce was written by Sandra Levins and Illustrated by Bryan Langdo. It was published in 2006 by Magination Press and addresses a serious concern for many children of divorce – whether or not they did something that caused the divorce of their parents. Check out this review, and make sure to read our interview with Sandra Levins at the end of this article.
About the Author
The author page at Amazon.com explains:
When Sandra Levins began writing children’s books she fell in love with the message behind the stories and the notion that they can make a positive difference in the lives of children and families.
Sandra lives in Burlington, Iowa, with her husband Jim, and stepson Kevin. Kevin and his brother are the inspiration for her stories for little kids about divorce, “Was it the Chocolate Pudding?” and “Do You Sing Twinkle?”
Brief Synopsis of the Book
This book is written from the perspective of an older brother who lives with his younger brother and father. The boy recalls an incident when he and his younger brother made a mess with chocolate pudding. That mess led to a fight between mom and dad, and mom eventually moved out. Like many children, the boy in this story assumed mom had to leave because of him and the chocolate pudding incident. He explains,
They didn’t tell my brother and me why, but I figured it out. It was because I smeared chocolate pudding all over my brother.
One day, later in the story, they are with their mom and stop chocolate ice cream. The little boy remembers the chocolate pudding incident and apologizes to the mother for causing her to move out and the family to have to get a divorce. The mom reassures the boy that the divorce was not his fault.
Who Is This Book For?
This book is mainly for elementary aged kids to help them to understand that divorce is a grown-up issue and not their fault. It is an awesome resource for parents and others who work with children and are interested in giving them an avenue to open up about what they are feeling.
Review of the Book
I am always a little leery when it comes to children’s books about divorce. Don’t misunderstand me – there are some very good ones out there. But, for every good one there are several whose main objective seems to be to tell kids they should just get over it with time and lots of other kids go through the same thing. I am happy to say that Was It the Chocolate Pudding? is one of those books that I find very helpful and would not hesitate to recommend children of divorce read. This book addresses one of the single most consistent responses of children of divorce – a sense that it is their fault. In addition to that, though, it is just a well written and illustrated children’s books I’ve read in a long while.
More Detailed Information About the Book
A Different Perspective
One of the first things that might surprise you when you pick up this book is the perspective from which it is written. In this story, the children are not living with mom and seeing dad every couple of weeks. Instead, the two kids live with their dad and mom moves out after they tell the kids about the divorce. Although still not the norm, this happens more frequently than you might think, and it is good to see a book written from that perspective. That said, kids who live with mom after the divorce will still be able to relate well to this book.
Kid Friendly Definitions
The book is chocked full of kid-friendly definitions, and it is one of my favorite features of the book. In the very beginning, the book explains:
Divorce is the grown-up word for when mommies and daddies decide not to live together anymore. They tell the kids they’re sorry, and one of them moves somewhere else.
There are also a series of charming definitions wherein the main character explains various grown-up words. For example,
New arrangement is the grown-up word for changing lots of things you used to do.
Ideal situation is the grown-up word for having both a mommy and a daddy at home, I think.
Differences is the grown-up word for everybody not liking the same thing and not always getting their own way.
Relief is the grown-up word for feeling like you’re carrying a big, heavy book bag and someone takes it off your back.
Explaining is when you talk to somebody about something so they can understand it, even if that somebody is a little kid.
And the second word, adjusting-to-our-new-arrangement, is what you do when you don’t have an ideal situation, and it’s still okay.
I love the author’s attempt to take away some of the mystery surrounding what is going on by simply defining words. As the main character explains,
I know grown-ups don’t think kids can understand a lot of stuff, but big stuff like divorce needs some explaining.
Another top notched feature of this book is the Afterword written by Jane Annuziata, Psy.D. called simply “Note to Parents.” This 3 page Afterword is meant to help parents understand, and help with, the emotions many children experience after divorce. It covers explaining the separation/divorce to the child, helping your child cope and a variety of different emotions experience by children including confusion, anxiety, Loss, Sadness, loss of control, anger, loyalty conflicts and acting out. As helpful of the story will be for kids, this Afterword will be helpful to parents.
You can find this book, and many others, in our Divorce Ministry 4 Kids Bookstore.