#120 – Mommy, Daddy, I Had a Bad Dream by Martha Heineman Pieper, PhD

 5 Stars

When Joey, a bouncy happy kangaroo, has a series of bad dreams, his parents lovingly help him understand them.  Children will be fascinated and enlightened as Joey learns to make sense of his bad dreams and to put himself back to sleep feeling comforted and in charge.

Joey is part of a kangaroo family of four, including a baby sister.  Joey goes to bed one night and has a bad dream.

. . . . . . “No apples and honey for THREE days,” 
. . . . . . . . . . declares Judge Cass O. Wary.
. . . . . .“But that’s my favorite dessert!”  
. . . . . . . . . . Joey looks bewildered.

He runs into his–oops, sorry.  Joey hops into his parents’ bedroom visibly upset.  Mommy, Daddy, I Had a Bad Dream! Dad calmly explains what dreams are and then asks what Joey had done that day.  Together with Mommy, Joey and Daddy figure out why Joey had a bad dream. With the dream understood, can Joey go back to bed?

. . . . . . “Yes!”said Joey. 

A few weeks later, Joey is not feeling well when he has another bad dream, and then another a few weeks after that.  With each bad dream, Joey goes to Mommy and Daddy for a hug and help understanding his bad dream.  Each time, after processing the dream and his day, Mommy or Daddy ask Joey if he is ready to go back to bed.

. . . . . . Each time he says, “Yes, I am.”

Once again, a few weeks later, Joey has a bad dream.  He awakes and says to Clarissa, his pet cuscus,

. . . . . . “Should I run to Mommy and Daddy for a hug?”  

Joey stays tucked in his bed, thinks through his day, and once he understands, he closes his eyes and falls back to sweet dreams.  The next day . . . sorry, that’s it.  I will say you will love the ending.

Mommy, Daddy, I Had a Bad Dream! is the author’s first children’s book. She has a PhD and more than 35 years helping parents and kids.  Dr. Heineman Peiper understands dreams and psychology of the mind.  This shows in her writing.  Do not be alarmed or afraid your child will not understand the story.  The author has written a charming book with a rudimentary explanation young children will be able to grasp.

There are four scenes.  The first three scenes use repetition to help young Joey remember the steps he uses to understand his dream, releasing the fear he feels.  In the final scene Joey has remembered those steps and feels confident he can follow them without help or a hug to calm his fears.

I wish I would have Mommy, Daddy, I Had a Bad Dream! when I worked with kids.  The story is engaging and visually appealing.  This is not a message book.  Joey is not dealing with anything right or wrong.  The story helps parents and kids deal with a terrifying experience—nightmares.  The story offers kids empathy through the parents.  How wonderful is it that Daddy is handling things, helping his son understand what is happening?

Of the many books I have read, and those lined up to read, this is only the second with an involved father.  I like that  Daddy is the involved parent.  Mommy is not out of the picture.  She is right by daddy’s side offering comfort and reassuring hugs.  She helps Joey understands his  anger, caused by a perceived loss of attention, did not mean he no longer loved his mommy and daddy.

. . . . . . Mommy explains, "You can be angry 
. . . . . . . . . . . and still love us at the same time."

The parents work together to help their son, giving concrete help.  Joey learns he can solve his problem without running to Mommy or Daddy for a hug and reassurance.  Through the repetitive steps, Joey learns to center himself when awakened by a bad dream.

The illustrations look like pencil and watercolors.  The matte finish gives the pictures a soft and calming feel.  In many respects, the illustrations remind me of the Berenstain Bears.  Jo Gershman has done a fabulous job rendering our kangaroo family.  They are realistic with just a touch of cartoon to soften them.  This is what reminds me of the Bears; and the little teddy bear police officer, in the second scene, is the best example.  Not that he is a bear, but that he has that quality look the Berenstain Bears always had.

Your child will adore the many characters in the illustrations.  If your child experiences nightmares, he or she will adore Mommy, Daddy, I Had a Bad Dream! for the easy to learn technique that will have them once again peacefully sleeping all night.  If a bad dream should occur, your child will have the steps needed to figure out why such a dream disrupted their sleep.  Knowledge is power.  Mommy, Daddy, I Had a Bad Dream! can give your child the power to calmly deal with bad dreams, through Joey’s story.

To comment, and I hope you do, scroll to the top of this review,  look left, and click on “comment.”  Thanks. 

Mommy, Daddy, I Had a Bad Dream!

Author: Martha Heineman Pieper, PhD    website
Illustrator: Jo Gershman  website
Publisher: Smart Love Press  website
Release Date:  April 25, 2012
ISBN:  978-0-9838664-0-4
Number of Pages: 32
Ages:  3-8


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  1. Pingback: Perfect Picture Book Friday: KANGAROOS HAVE JOEYS « Opening a Can of Bookworms – Nessa Morris

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