THINK BACK for a moment to your childhood. Remember a time when you were in a store or in a large crowd of people, possibly at a game, or a circus, or even a large department store. Suddenly, you look up for your parent or guardian and s/he is gone.
You panic. Fear overwhelms you. You think, "I'm all alone. Where did Daddy go? Where is Momma? Who will help me?" What Will Happen to Me? Finally you shout "Mommy" or "Daddy" and for a few seconds, no one answers. You start to cry because you feel desperately lost. "I'm over here, Howard--over here. You shouldn't walk off like that." In that instant, your fearful plight ends. You've reconnected with love and security.
Now Transfer your feeling of lost love and security to the children in What Will Happen to Me. Imagine going to bed each night without a loving parental kiss or at least a warm "Good nigh?" Imagine getting up each morning asking yourself, "Does anybody really care about me? Does my mom or dad love me for who I am? I feel lost!"
Regardless of age, ALL of the children in What Will Happen to Me? have lost one or both parents because they are serving out a jail or prison sentence. Yes, these children have the right to visit their missing loved one--to talk with them, to hold and touch them if they feel like it--but inevitably, the visit must end and like little lost Howard above, the aching emptiness returns.
What Will Happen to Me? is a fascinating book that includes stunning pictures of children of all ages along with their heartfelt comments. One or both of their parents are incarcerated. By itself, each photograph would make a terrific portrait for an art exhibit. But seen beside its soulful sentiments, each face can trouble a reader. Some betray sorrow, fear, happiness, and even wishful thinking. But behind each one is the hidden fear, What Will Happen to Me?. Here are comments taken from beside the pictures.
_____"Mommy ... I was really, really sad. Sad that you didn't come home. I love you" (pg. 7)
_____"Visiting was hard `cause you know you're leaving and your mom's not leaving with you." (pg. 8)
_____"I miss my mom, and I don't know where she is." (pg. 12)
_____"When my mom was gone, I'd cry myself to sleep." (pg. 13)
_____"I was a little bit angry `cause she's been there so many times." (pg. 15)
_____"I used to be ashamed to say my mom is in prison ... my auntie told me that it's not my fault." (pg. 18)
_____"In my dreams I thought she was coming back." (pg. 37)
_____"I was crying ... it was hard to see them come and take my mom." (pg.26)
_____"I hated my mom when she first went in ... then I'd just cry ... she did love us." (p34)
What Will Happen to Me? includes a short section showing loving guardians of children whose parent(s) are incarcerated. These guardians make every effort to provide love and guidance, while instilling joy and hope for a child's future. They make every effort to develop the attitude that, YES, your parent is in jail, but YOU are in no way responsible and although YOU may love them dearly, YOU will not repeat their mistakes.
The end of the book includes an explanation of the Bill of Rights for children with incarcerated parents. It talks about visiting rights, and the child's right to be heard when decisions are made.
What Will Happen to Me? is an excellent peek into the lives of children because it shows other kids that they are not alone in words anyone could understand. They can see the faces and hear the comments of other troubled youths. It is great for those in jail because it shows the devastation their absence has on a child's psyche. It can give educators or anyone involved with a child whose parent is incarcerated a more positive attitude toward children from a broken home.
I would highly recommend this 5-star What Will Happen to Me? to anyone seeking a short, but inspirational and informative read regarding children many people prefer not think about.