It's Not Your Fault, Koko Bear: A Read-To gether Book for Parents and Young Children During Divorce (Lansky, Vicki) ISBN: 9780916773472
Published by Book Peddlers, 1998
When Mama and Papa Bear have to tell Koko that they are getting a divorce and that this means Papa Bear will not be living in the same house any more, Koko is very sad and quite angry: 'I don't want him to leave. I don't want two homes!' The first night in Papa's new home doesn't feel right, and he asks Papa if it is something he has done that has made Papa go away. Papa Bear is very reassuring and explains that 'grown-up bears can be very gruff and growly toward each other' and make it not right to live together, but that Koko will always be loved by both of his parents. Play school the next day is very difficult too, and Koko doesn't know how to explain what is wrong or how he is feeling. Mama comes to collect him and tells his teacher what is happening in his family so she can help him cope. That evening, Mama comes up with a good way of explaining to Koko about families - they are like puzzles, if a piece doesn't fit, then forcing it doesn't work, and Mama and Papa have become like a non-fitting puzzle piece. Children always fit with their parents, though, and she and Papa will always fit with Koko. He would still rather they all fit together. Mama is understanding and together they mark the calendar for a Sunday a month from that date when they will check to see if Koko is still feeling angry and sad. She is sure that if they continue to do this, one day he will be able to say he is okay. Mama and Papa both use the same bedtime ritual wherever Koko is staying, the blessing they have always used: 'You are the bear for whom we care, you are so blessed, none can compare.' Families don't have to live together. Koko doesn't live with his uncles or cousins, and they are still family. So the fact that his parents don't live together doesn't make them any less a family. A good idea that should prove valuable to so many people in this situation. My one caveat is that the (very good) information for parents is printed in a yellow box at the bottom of each page. In my experience of reading with children, they want to know what everything on the page says, and that could cause a problem. It might be better if the parental guidance was set at the back of the book and the story is completely for the child. However, that is a minor problem in a book that is of real use to parents in an unhappy situation.