4 out of 4 stars
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Why Can’t Uncle Come Home? is a children’s book written by Christiane Joy Allison and illustrated by Liz Shine. The book is about 5-year-old Timmy and his family as they learn to deal with the wrongful conviction of his uncle. The story starts out with the family all spending time together. Timmy notices something is up when his aunt and mom start talking about something called a trial. He is told that the kids have to stay home because it is not a good place for children. After days of this trial, Timmy’s parents come home crying and tell him that his uncle has to go to jail. Timmy doesn’t want his uncle to go and doesn’t understand why he can’t just come home. Will he ever be able to come to terms with this event?
This book is based on true events in the lives of the author and illustrator. The author wrote this story around the questions that her niece and nephew had when their uncle was wrongly convicted. At the end of the book, the author included a note to parents with this information as well as some statistics on wrongful conviction in the United States. It made me realize that it is a real problem, and children are affected by it. The author wrote this book to help those kids.
The message of this book was very impactful, and the author did a great job of getting it across. It is definitely not an easy topic to sit and explain to kids. The author dealt with it personally, so she is the perfect person to write a book that does the explaining. She used an amazing metaphor to get the idea of a wrongful conviction across in a way that kids could easily relate to. I don’t want to spoil the book by writing the metaphor here, but I was very impressed at how relative it was.
Not only was the message portrayed well, but the book was also very well-written. It was at a great level for kids between the ages of 4 and 10. The little ones could have it read to them, and the older ones could read it with a little guided help. The vocabulary was right at their level with just a few words that would really need some explaining, such as “innocence” and “conviction”. Because of the nature of the story, those words are unavoidable. With the level and flow of this book, parents can really focus on the message with their kids instead of the difficulty of the book.
The illustrations of this book were also great. They were the icing on the cake. Each one had great detail and perfectly matched the part of the story it was correlated with. The text was interspersed throughout the pictures in a great overall format. It all tied together perfectly.
There is nothing to critique about this book. It deserves nothing less than 4 out of 4 stars. It took a difficult topic and put it into a relatable, easy-to-read story. I would suggest this book to any families that are dealing with the issue of wrongful conviction or to parents and educators that just want to teach children about this important topic.
Why Can't Uncle Come Home?
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