#161 – Hear My Roar: A Story of Family Violence by Gillian Watts

5 Stars 
Hear My Roar: A Story of Family Violence
Author: Gillian Watts; Illustrator:  Ben Hodson
Publisher: Annick Press
978-1-55451-201-0
No. Pages: 56  Ages: 6-9
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It’s summer and Mama, Papa, and Orsa Bear are picnicking in the woods.  Papa tells Orsa how they used to scare animals into traps by roaring.  He challenges Orsa to roar, but ridicules him when he isn’t loud or scary enough.  Papa’s own roar is so loud and scary, Orsa cowers in fright.

As the weather turns colder food is scarce, and Papa’s temper flares easily.  It seems Mama and Orsa can’t do anything right.  Even after a long winter’s sleep Papa is still always angry.

Mama and Orsa visit Doctor Owl for advice.  With her help, they set out on a path toward a new beginning—one that will hopefully include Papa, too.

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Hear My Roar* is one of those books that can change a life. Getting children to talk about the violence in their home is difficult.  Kids live in constant fear of both the abuser and the authorities that could help them, thanks to mind games played on the child.  He, or she, does not want to be the one “. . . who tears apart our family; . . . who sends me to jail.”

I like Hear My Roar because of the graphic comic book style, which allows children to be at ease with the subject of violence.  The illustrations look harmless with the bright colors and wonderful characters. Using bears as the characters also removes the threat most pamphlets would cause for children.

Hear My Roar is a gentle break-the-ice for parents, care-givers, social workers, and others in the child’s life who are trying to help. Most kids are afraid to talk and many believe, falsely, that they will go to juvenile jail. Traumatized children often believe the violence is their fault.  This book helps kids understand it is the abuser, the violent one, that is at fault.

I like that Hear My Roar shows the cycle of violence, be it physical, verbal, or witnessed.  Dad is grumpy, loud, easily annoyed.  Orsa retreats in fear and later is found repeating the violence.  Dad has taught his son that violence is the way conflicts are solved.  Later, Mama finds Orsa playing and repeating the violent things Papa has said and done. Alarmed, Mama seeks out help.**

When Papa’s violence escalates, Mama and Orsa leave their home to go to a safe house. This is one of the more frightening steps in combating violence and staying safe.  Many times children do not want to leave home or the offending parent.  Hear My Roar ends with Papa Bear realizing his responsibility and facing the consequences.

This book, expertly written by then debut author Gillian Watts, should be in hospitals, emergency rooms, schools, social services offices, and the like. Combating a child’s fears, getting him to talk, to feel safe, are difficult steps in helping these kids. Hear My Roar cannot accomplish all those on its own, but it can make a good impression on children in fear.

As a social worker, I absolutely love this book. The illustrations are non-threatening, easy to get a child to read or listen to the story, and a great way to open up a subject most abused children are told repeatedly not to speak about—with anyone. Hear My Roar can give children hope for a better, non-violent family life.  It helps children understand that leaving for a safe house is okay.

I could go on and on about Hear My Roar and the wonderful things this little book can do in the right hands—children’s and those that want to help them.  Even if there is no violence in your child’s life, Hear My Roar is a wonderful read and a great dialogue starter.

No one should be subjected to violence of any kind.  Children who grow up with violence often repeat that violence in their own families and personal relationships.  Sit down and read Hear My Roar with your children.  You will be so glad you did.

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*An important note:  Hear My Roar: A Story of Family Violence, was adapted from a first edition written by Doctor Ty Hochban.  Dr. Hochban has extensively researched  the effect of family violence and childhood developmental psychology.  Transforming the original into a comic book for kids was a brilliant idea.

**The back of the book contains lists of resources and references for adults and children.

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Hear My Roar: A Story of Family Violence

Author: Gillian Watts    info
Illustrator: Ben Hodson   info   blog
Publisher: Annick Press    website
Release Date: September 2009
ISBN: 978-1-55451-201-0
Number of pages: 56
Ages: 6-9
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7 thoughts on “#161 – Hear My Roar: A Story of Family Violence by Gillian Watts

    • Annick Press sent me a catalog and an offer to review anything I liked. I couldn’t resist this one. I’ve never seen anything for kids like Hear My Roar–even as a social worker who worked with kids. I think it’s a gem.

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  1. Wow! That looks like a fabulous book and resource for families. This is such a tough topic and this kind of book can provide an opening for children to discuss violence within their home. Great book!

    I’m visiting from Mother Daughter Book Reviews and I’m now following you via Twitter and by email. I’m so glad we connected and I look forward to seeing your reviews. Cheers, Renee

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  2. HI!!
    It is ten till midnight, so technically I posted a review today as promised. Un-technically, I am very sorry this was not up earlier in the day. Hear My Roar is a wonderful book with the potential to help countless children and their families.

    I hope you like this selection and buy a copy. I’ve never suggested this before and never planned to, but this is an exceptional little book that can become important when you least expect it. But when that happens, you will be ready to provide a much needed opening.

    Enjoy!

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