Saturday, February 15, 2020

NetGalley ARC | Something Bad Happened

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I received a free digital ARC from the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

From Goodreads:
When we learn about something bad - even when we hear only bits and pieces of it - our brains get busy trying to make sense of what we've heard. Seeing distressing events on the news, or hearing about them later, can feel scary and overwhelming. Talking about what happened, and how we feel about it, is hugely important.

Something Bad Happened guides children ages 6-12 and the adults who care about them through tough conversations about news of large-scale events, addressing questions such as: "Where did it happen?" "Why did it happen?" and "Will it happen again?" Feelings like sadness, fear and confusion are  normalized, and coping tools provided.

For children and parents to read together, or by a child with a parent nearby, this helpful resource by a child psychologist best-selling author provides comfort, support and action plans for children learning about the big bad things that happen in our world.


Easily one of the best books I have found so far to help young children understand the sometimes-scary world we live in. It does a phenomenal job showing that, even though these events are frightening, there are always people to help you figure out what is going on, and to process it. The book is a fantastic guide for parents on how to protect and inform their children, at the same time. It is also purposely general in order to encompass pretty much any 'bad thing' that you can imagine having to try to explain to your child.

This book would be useful for so many - parents, teachers, counselors, social workers, pediatricians, pastors/youth/children's ministers, basically anyone who cares for children in any capacity. To be clear, it is NOT for children/families who have been directly involved in a traumatic event. The author makes a point to directly state this. It is for those trying to process events that did not impact them directly, but have impacted their world in general, if only by the way adults are acting/behaving/speaking/not speaking, etc. We need to be able to guide our children through what seems to be increasingly turbulent times and this guide is a great starting point to do just that.

I thought specifically of Sept 11 when I first saw this book on NetGalley - not only for my students, but first for Eleanor. She is six and a half, and loves the Who Is/Who Was/What Is/etc series - you know, the books where the subject on the cover has a GIANT head and itty bitty body. The book about the Twin Towers is one that we own and we did start it months ago, but at one point Eleanor said she wanted to take a break from it because it made her sad. We will revisit it sometime in the future whenever she is ready, and with this book I will be even better prepared to help her understand the life-changing/world-changing event that occurred long before she was born, whose impact is still seen and felt today.

Additionally, every year on Sept 11, I teach my students about it. I have taught 3rd-6th grade and I appreciate the author's push for discussion and dialogue. I use material from kid-friendly, age-appropriate websites (such as and BrainPop) to present the material to them, and give them the opportunity to ask as many questions as they need or want in order to make sense. It truly is so hard even for 6th graders to understand that day, the destruction on such a massive scale. After reading this, I have ideas on how to incorporate its suggestions into the lesson for my future students.

The introduction really helps adults understand how to use the book, and the author gives seven tips to help guide the conversations. The following chapters then focus on various points in the process - from finding out the bad thing that happened, calming oneself, learning information, identifying those who can help, dealing with a variety of emotions, caring for oneself, and finally - perhaps one of the most important - healing the world. Most of the chapters are 6-7 pages. The longest chapter is also one that it critically important - that of explaining the likelihood of a bad thing happening to someone. This is so crucial because it can help calm a child's worst fears, help them to understand that even though this bad thing happened, it does not mean it will happen to them. I like the examples that the author used, along with the illustrations, of using marbles in a jar to demonstrate possible vs likely.

It is sometimes so hard to know what or how much to say to younger children when something bad does happen. They will likely hear about it at some point, maybe from kids at school with older siblings, or overhearing a conversation between parents, etc. We have only so much ability to control what our children hear and when they hear it, and this book goes a long way in helping guide that process of understanding when a tragic event has entered their radar.

Personally, I do not ever share the "something bad" events with Eleanor. She is six. There is no reason to bring trauma and despair into her world, when there will be enough for her to see for herself when she is much older. I hate that books like this even need to exist, but there will come a day when she will see a news report, or hear a conversation, and I want her to come to me, to ask me questions. This book will be just the tool needed to start the healing process and show her that bad things happen, but we can understand the complex issues, work through them, and help try to make our world a better place.

Highly recommended.


  1. great review and it does sound like a useful book. i agree with your sentiment about sharing bad things with small children. they will come up with questions eventually and that is soon enough
    sherry @ fundinmental

    1. Thank you! I wish I could send her out into the world with earmuffs to block out all the bad but I know that it not realistic or even appropriate. Kids have to deal with so much, and at such younger ages now.

  2. This sounds like such an important book and I wish it had been written forty years ago when I was Eleanor's age(ish). I grew up with reports on the news of IRA bombs going off seemingly Everywhere so my parents' sharp 'don't be stupid, of course it won't happen here' comments really weren't helpful to my peace of mind. Admittedly they were right, though only by about 25 miles, but if I could have been helped to a better understanding I think I wouldn't have worried myself so much.

    1. I am so sorry that is something you had to deal with and try to understand on your own, I can't even imagine it. And 25 miles is plenty close enough!

  3. The world isn't always easy to describe to kids, I find that a lot with a highly inquisitive (almost) nine-year-old so books like this could be extremely helpful!

    1. Eleanor is the same way - tons of questions about everything all the time. I love how her mind works and seeing her make sense of things is wonderful to watch. But when it comes to the scary stuff, I wish I could shield her forever. Not realistic, I know, but that doesn't stop me from wishing anyway!

  4. The world can be so scary when you're a child. My heart always goes out to children because they are so helpless. I have two precious nieces that are five and seven. Their mother, my sister is mentally ill and currently out of our lives. I pray and trust God for their protection. You didn't ask for such personal information, but there it is.

    1. Thank you for sharing. I am a firm believer that we have to keep talking about mental illness until we can squash the stigma surrounding them. They are real diseases even if we can not always see physical manifestations. Do your nieces live with you or another family member? I am so sorry they are having to go through something so difficult, especially when the issues are hard to understand at such young ages. I will pray for your family as well, thank you for giving me the opportunity to do so.

  5. Replies
    1. Truly, a wonderful book. I just wish it was not a book our world needs.


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