Somebody Cares by Susan Farer Straus

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Somebody Cares: A Guide for Kids Who Have Experienced Neglect

Susan Farber Straus, PhD, Author

Claire Keay, Illustrator

Magination Press, Fiction, Mar. 14, 2016

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: Child abuse, Neglect, Child safety, Diverse characters

Opening: There were times I felt good about being me. I did a lot on my own. I told myself, “‘I’m big. I can take care of myself.” But that’s not how I felt all the time. Lots of times I needed help and there was no help.

Publisher Synopsis: Useful to read with a caring adult, Somebody Cares is a book for children who have experienced parental neglect and have taken care of many things on their own. It helps them understand their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors and prepares them for changes in their families. Most importantly, Somebody Cares teaches children that they are not to blame and were brave to do so much on their own.

Why I like this book:

This is the first picture book I’ve read that deals with young children who feel dismissed or neglected by parents. Out of necessity many children have to prepare their own meals, go home to an empty house after school, care for younger siblings, are left at home alone when a parent goes out at night, and worry about parental substance abuse problems. These children are brave, courageous, and strong.  But neglect leads to loneliness, anxiety and behavior problems.  Neglect can be found in all socio-economic groups.

The author has written the narrative in first person, which is very effective. Children express their thoughts and feelings about what it’s like to be on their own. When neighbors and teachers ask them if they are okay, they clam up so they don’t make their parents mad or get in trouble. Help arrives when an adult calls a social worker, who intervenes and talks with the child and parents.  Things begin to change as they all work together.

The illustrator shows a diverse group of children throughout the book, thus eliminating any stereotypes. The illustrations are rendered in warm, colorful pastels. The author has written a must-needed book for children experiencing neglect. Children shouldn’t have to carry such a big burden alone.

Resources: This book is an important tool for grandparents, a caring adult, teachers, school counselors, and therapists to read with a child. In the story the children are encouraged to develop a “Safety Plan,” and a “Feel Good Plan” of deep breathing exercises and relaxation. There are fun after-school activities for kids. There is a “Note to Readers” at the beginning of the book. This book belongs in every school library and counselor’s office.

Favorite Quotes:

“Sometimes I thought everyone forgot about me. Sometimes I thought it was because I was bad.” 

“I thought this was the way it would be forever. Then something happened and things changed.”

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

28 thoughts on “Somebody Cares by Susan Farer Straus

  1. Even children who are not neglicted should be aware that some are. A sensitive subject that needs to be addressed. Glad a book has been written about it.

  2. This sounds like a book that must be in every school, after-school program and anywhere else caring adults will encounter neglected children. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Wow, Patricia, I got all choked up just reading your description, so I can imagine what the book must be like! It’s a sad and sorry fact that neglect comes in all forms and all types of homes. I highly doubt a neglectful parent would buy this book, but it definitely belongs in schools and therapists offices!

    • This is a wonderful resource for teachers, counselors, coaches and anyone involved with children. It is a sensitive book that would be helpful in helping children share their feelings.

  4. I agree with the comments above that this book needs to be shared in classrooms and made available in therapist’s offices. For those parents who give freely of their time and selves to their children by reading to them, making their school lunches, meals, and so much more, it’s heartbreaking to think of the many children who don’t know these joys. Thank you for bringing another great book to light this PPBF.

  5. I love that this book is out there. I know people have asked me for book recommendations that address certain issues. I’m adding this to my list in case anyone asks about this topic.

  6. As other commentators have said, neglect of children takes many forms and occurs to differing degrees at all levels and can be difficult to pick up on. I think perhaps many children suffering neglect don’t realise that their situations are not ‘normal’ and if this book was available to all children it may encourage those affected to come forward. Lovely choice.

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