Kathleen Edick and Paula Johnson have written and illustrated a series of books for children who are coping with the deployment of a military parent. Kathleen’s son served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and she was eager to find a way to explain her son’s deployments to her grandchildren in a meaningful way. Paula, also a grandmother, loved the vision and added her writing and rhyming talents to the stories. Together, these two grandmothers have created a beautiful series of books that will help children and families deal with long deployments, reunions and homecomings. Children will have fun with the rhyming. The bold and colorful illustrations depict a lot of action and emotion designed to help kids understand and share feelings. There a three basic books in the series for children 2-9 years. The characters remain the same throughout the series. The books have all won the Silver Mom’s Choice Awards Honoring Excellence.
“Children make a sacrifice of the parents’ time and attention which needs to be recognized by the American public,” says Kathleen. “We need to care for and acknowledge that they indeed serve too!”
A Child’s Deployment Book
Opening/Synopsis: “My daddy joined the Army, He’s away from me and Mommy: and I don’t like it…NOT ONE BIT! Sometimes I even pitch a fit: And sometimes I regret it!” Told in first person, a little girl is very unhappy about her father being deployed for a year and she thinks about the time they will miss together before he returns home. He explains to her that he’ll be in a danger zone, and that he wants her to stay home safe and sound. She thinks about him when she gets up, imagines what he’s doing during the day, and what he eats for dinner. Bedtime is when she misses her daddy the most. But, she says a prayer for her dad at the same time he prays for his family. The book is an honest portrayal for kids, but it is also a book of strength, courage and hope. Posted in the back of the book is “The Creed of the Soldier’s Child,” a wonderful tool to use or post for the child.
A Child’s Reunion Book
Opening/Synopsis: “Home is where things get messy — my room, my playhouse, my brother! Sometimes when feelings get messy too, we don’t know what to do with each other.” Their father is deployed in the autumn, and the little girl and her family celebrate Christmas early with Dad. They celebrate Christmas again in the winter, but it’s lonely without him. The little girl travels through the seasons, pointing out the things she misses with her Dad — hunting Easter eggs, losing a tooth, and missing birthdays, and the Fourth of July parade. As autumn begins to arrive, a it’s time for Dad to come home. The children prepare a “Welcome Home” banner and greet him with other military families. The girl is happy for a while, but her feelings become messy and she feels jealous at his paying attention to her mother, angry when he tries to tell her what to do. The family needs time to become a family again. A very realistic portrayal for families.
The Homecoming Box
Opening/Synopsis: “We got a surprise at FRG, a great surprise I think you’ll agree. We walked down the hall to the room just for kids, and there sat two boxes – boxes with lids.” The sister and brother attend a program for military children at a center. Ms. K. holds a decorated box in her lap, and invites the children to gather around her, reach into the box and pull out an item. Ms. K shares her memory associated with each item. She gives each child a box– Homecoming Box — to decorate and take home. During the year they will put items of events and special moments they want to share with their deployed parent when he/she returns. Filling the box, helps the time pass for the sister and brother. They can’t wait until their dad returns so they can tell him about their year. This is a creative activity for children and helpful for parents during the adjustment period that follows a deployment. There is an appendix at the end that gives directions on creating a Homecoming Box.
Kathleen and Paula formed their own publishing company, We The People Publishing, LLC, for the WE SERVE TOO!” books. There is an inspiring story behind the creation of the books, and their journey to bring these remarkable books to children of service families. The books are distributed through Complete Book and Media. They can be purchased through the WE SERVE TOO! website. I encourage parents and teachers to check out the website. There is an on-line discussion guide for each book that can be downloaded for free and short videos about the books. There is a booklet for children 6-10 years about Afghanistan, coloring books, “We Serve Too” dog tags, and free printable coloring pages and military branch stickers.
This book has been provided to me free of charge by the author in exchange for an honest review of the work.