The big bad wolf can huff and puff all he wants, but this house will not fall down.
I have some mixed feelings about The Big Bad Wolf in My House by Valérie Fontaine. A children’s book commentary that’s meant to help kids through the aftermath of suffering abuse, this is a pretty exceptional story and is written very well. The allegory behind the abuse the characters suffer is utterly brilliant. And yet, part of me still feels like this story is a bit of a let down. I think what this all comes down to, though, is who exactly will be reading the story.
The big bad wolf just walked in the door.
I’ve often said in my reviews of children’s books that there should be something beneficial for the reader to learn from them. In a sense, this book does an incredible job of providing abused children with a story they can relate to that offers an ending of hope and relief. And if this is a book people are reading with children who have suffered from abusive situations after they’ve gotten out…everything about it makes sense.
In fact, the book is brilliant if these are the only children reading it. The emotional depth and ability to explore the complex emotions that come from such a situation is very meaningful. The artwork is beautiful and easy to relate to.
But, the entire time I was reading this I kept thinking about the kids who aren’t in the aftermath stage, who are still experiencing the abuse. And it’s here that I really think the book kind of fails. You see, we are able to experience the struggles with the main character as they occur. We can build our connections and work through our emotions because of the way everything is portrayed. But, while the difficult subject is handled incredibly well, it never really addresses what a child can do to protect themselves in a scenario like this.
He looked at me with cold eyes and sharp teeth.
So, I kept thinking…what if, on the off chance, a child suffering from an abusive situation comes across this book? What is The Big Bad Wolf in My House going to teach them?
Well, it might give them a wonderful outlet to deal with their emotions. This is great! But, while the ending is positive, we’re never really shown how to address such a situation. Mom, fortunately, comes to her senses and handles it. I think it’s great that she does. But not all mothers do. And to send a message that mom must be the one to remove her children from the terrible situation with the big bad wolf is at the detriment of a child whose mother is unable to do so.
It’s a tough situation.
In truth, I’m certainly not saying that the child in this story needed to get herself out. It would be insane to expect such a thing. But, I wonder if something could have happened that portrayed a path toward getting help. Could there have been a moment that showed how a the little girl could help herself? I would never in a million years expect a child to do so, but I at least think in a fictional account centered around helping a child deal emotionally with abuse should have a little more.
I closed my eyes and kept them closed.
It’s a tricky thing, dealing with sensitive subjects like this. And goodness, I wish I had the right answers. I do genuinely think this is an incredibly important book. There’s no doubt in my mind that it will help young children work through the complex emotions that come with living through something like this. But I’d like to have seen something in here to show a reader who just happens to stumble across it that there are ways to reach out for help.
And maybe I’m thinking into it too much and perhaps there are simply so many moving pieces involved that it wouldn’t be as helpful as I imagine it would be. But I just feel like the book lacks in this area and I wish it had done a little better.
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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