Loving Healing Press (2009)
Reviewed by Sophia (age 6.5) and Madeline (age 8) McElroy for Reader Views (6/09)
Madeline: “Annabelle’s Secrets” is a difficult story about a young girl named Annabelle. This is a book for children who have been sexually abused. This is a book for children to help them realize that the abuse was not their fault and that they don’t need to be scared.
This book taught me about inappropriate behavior. This has never happened to me before but I learned a lot about what to do if this did happen to me. I learned that if anyone told me to keep a secret about inappropriate things I should tell my Mom or Dad immediately.
This book made me feel weird because of the icky things the boy made Annabelle do. I was surprised that Joel had to go to court, he was only 13. I was happy that he went to court because he did lots of bad stuff and he wasn’t allowed to go near Annabelle or any other kids in the neighborhood.
Sophia: I learned it’s not ok for others to touch you in your private spaces. If someone touches you inappropriately you should tell your parents, or if you cannot tell your parents you should find someone else to tell. You should never, ever keep a secret from your Mom or Dad. Older people should not ask kids to do inappropriate stuff.
Parent: I was not properly prepared for the mature nature of this book when my girls started reading it without me. I had asked them to wait for me while I cleaned-up the dinner dishes; they didn’t. I decided to read the book myself first and then have a pre-reading debriefing, so that all the details wouldn’t be too overwhelming. My youngest took it in stride and really understood the inappropriate touching concept. But, my eldest daughter really was shocked by most of the material.
When asked, neither of them knew that someone touching you or asking you to take your clothes off was wrong! I was shocked, I don’t know why, it’s not like we had ever talked about it before. In fact my husband was very disturbed that we were about to read the book, until I explained how this was a really good way to bring up the material before, rather than after, something bad occurred. Even after reading “Annabelle’s Secret” by Amy Barth and discussing that you should tell someone, my eldest daughter questioned, “What if it’s someone I know?” That really showed me how valuable this type of dialogue is for our children. It allows them to ask the questions and have the answers, should they ever need them in the future.