A shocking new children's book aims to help children cope with a parent being arrested and thrown in jail.
'The Night Dad Went to Jail: What to Expect When Someone You Love Goes to Jail' follows a young rabbit as his father is arrested at their house in front of the neighbors and sentenced to six years in prison.
It offers tips for dealing with the hardship of losing a parent for many years and an explanation of what to expect as a mother or father going through the legal process.
Sketch, a young rabbit, recounts his first-hand experience of witnessing his father’s arrest in their home and shares his lingering confusion.
'We were at Dad's apartment the night the police came. Lights flashed. Neighbors stared. The officers put my dad in handcuffs,' the young rabbit recounts with a drawing of the potentially highly traumatic scene for a child to experience.
'Your dad may have broken a law,' a furry police officer addresses the three children after taking their father away. 'We need to ask him some questions at the police station.'
The book follows young Sketch as he experiences confusion and even anger at his father being hauled away to jail.
It also provides comprehensive footnotes for children to better understand what their locked-up loved ones are going through.
'Laws are rules that tell people how they should behave. When people break a law, they may be put in jail or prison. They have to stay there for a period of time. How long depends upon what law they broke,' one such footnote tells.
Eventually Sketch and his siblings visit their father in jail where he apologizes for what has happened and admits having made mistakes.
'I hope you'll forgive me,' the boy's father tells him from the other side of a glass wall.
Sketch cannot think of anything to say back to his father.
The book explains that this is normal - and suggests talking about school or everyday life instead.
'Dad's sentence is for six years. That's a long time to wait to go fishing again. I'm still a little angry. But I'm working on forgiving my dad because I love him,' Sketch later says in the book while recalling their better days together.
'When someone you love goes to jail, you might feel lost, scared, and even mad. What do you do? No matter who your loved one is, this story can help you through the tough times,' the book describes its purpose.
Since its publication in August of 2011, the book has received wide acclaim by readers on Amazon.com who write having used it personally to bridge their own personal strife.
'I was pleased to see that this book has child-friendly drawings that my son was able to enjoy. I like how it explains the process in simple ways that a child would understand and it has been very helpful with my son in our current situation. Very useful and colorful,' one reader writes.
'If you ever have a family member go to jail, this is the book to buy. It explains the situation in a way children can understand,' another agrees.
Additional books by the author, Melissa Higgins, include Weekends with Dad: What to Expect When Your Parents Divorce.