Divorce Is the Worst

illus. by Anastasia Higginbotham. 64p. (Ordinary Terrible Things). Feminist. 2015. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781558618800.
K-Gr 3—This insightful and attractive picture book looks at divorce from a child's perspective. The title opens on a gender-neutral and ethnically ambiguous child being told by (unseen) parents that they're planning on splitting up. The child addresses readers directly about divorce while going about daily life (riding a bike, going to the bathroom). Higginbotham is honest with kids, acknowledging unpleasant truths, such as typical emotional responses (anger, guilt, sorrow) and what to expect from parents (crying, fighting, even offering kids bribes to soften the blow). She also places the burden directly on parents: "We don't decide our parents' lives. What they decide affects our lives." The beautiful collage illustrations (backgrounds look like ripped or wrinkled craft paper with photos and other images pasted on) and hand-lettered typeface give the book a homemade feel that will resonate with children. Higginbotham's decision not to portray the parents is a wise one: because readers never see a mother or a father, the title could be used for same-sex divorces, too. Appended are instructions aimed at helping kids express negative emotions by making a collage of their own.
VERDICT While divorce books are plentiful, this one stands above the rest.

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