4 Stars My "What if?" Book Tonya and Chad Walker Troy Palmer-Hughes CreateSpace No. Pages: 32 Ages: 4+ ......................... ..........................
From the Forward: Child safety experts and non-profit groups dedicated to the prevention of child abduction encourage parents to take a proactive approach in protecting their children against the threat of abduction. One of the methods used to educate and empower children is the “What if?” game, which uses hypothetical scenarios to teach children how to react in a potentially dangerous situation.
My What If Book, written by two parents, gives several harmful scenarios and possible reactions to help parents practice with their children. It also encourages parents to devise scenarios more in tune with their family life. The book sets examples for the most common situations, such as answering the phone or door, getting lost, Internet predators, and abductions.
When I received this book in the mail, my first thought was something similar to “what is this?” My What If Book consists of thirty-two five-by-seven inch pages. The illustrations are bright and bold. Some of the lettering is difficult to read because of the graphics surrounding the word, while most is in purple ink. A quick flip-through made me think it was a comic book.
Then I read the small book, twice. My What If Book packs a powerful punch. It made me think of the past stories I had read in the paper or saw on television. The young girl walking home from school, alone, who was forced into a slowly moving van. The children at a pre-school who were inappropriately touched, but told no one and no one knew, until the police arrested the couple running the pre-school. I thought of some of the cases I had with kids that went through horrible situations, none of them willingly, none of them prepared, and all of them young.
My What If Book appears to be for the child to carry in case of an emergency. There are pages for the child to write his name and for parents to write down emergency numbers the child or a safe adult can call. But then there is a page for the special code word, which should only be know by the child and the parents. In fact, the author stresses this with the sentence,
You should never tell anyone your special code word.
A code word is a word that lets your child know the person is safe and sent by mom or dad. If that person does not use the code word, your child knows not to trust them, to run the other way, yell for help, or any other predetermined and practiced response.
Why, then, is this word to be written down in the book? Not wise. The code word needs to be a word the child can remember. The code word can be a simple phrase that is unique to the child. What a code word cannot be is written down and carried.
The last spread talks about fears, confidence, trust, and talk. Most importantly, it reminds kids they are strong, clever, and loved. I would add not at fault. The website PreventAbduction.net is part of the My What If Book. At the website, parents can find resources, identification kits, the sex-offender lists for each state, and much more. The blog has a “Tip of the Week” that is a useful and thought out post.
My What If Book is a great little book written to help parents keep their children safe from the predators of this world. It encourages roll playing possible scenarios. I think practice makes it easier for a child to recognize a situation as bad and to react in a pre-designed way. (Please remember, bad situations cause a child stress and they may not be able to think, let alone react. Regardless, a bad situation, such as those in this book, is never a child’s fault.)
While this little book is simplistic on many levels, it can save children and parents anguish, heartaches, and untold sorrow, if not a life. Try it out and then give us your impressions.
Authors: Tonya and Chad Walker website book Illustrator: Troy Palmer-Hughes website Publisher: (SP)CreateSpace website Release Date: July 3, 2012 ISBN: 978-1477675045 Number of Pages: 32 Ages: 4+
Copyright ©2012 Tonya and Chad Walker and Tory Palmer-Hughes, used with permission