A Heart for Daddy

Helping Kids Recover from Parent's Self-Harm

Children - Social Issues
42 Pages
Reviewed on 11/15/2019
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Joshua Soule for Readers' Favorite

A Heart for Daddy: Helping Kids Recover from Parent’s Self-Harm is a children’s book by Leticia Murphy and Sharon Walling designed to help children better understand and cope with the loss of a parent via suicide. The book starts by affirming that the struggles and feelings the little boy has are normal, and it’s okay to be sad, cry, and not want to do things. As the book progresses, you begin to feel a sense of hope as the boy slowly begins to move toward a sense of normality. Even with good days and bad days, though it may be difficult, and though that pain may never go away, he eventually understands that he will be okay in the end.

I must say that I am very impressed with the obvious effort that was poured into A Heart for Daddy. Authors Leticia Murphy and Sharon Walling have done an excellent job in creating this book that inspires hope but does not patronize the reader or belittle what they are going through. Though it is written in a simplistic form appropriate for children, a reader of any age who is experiencing loss due to suicide would benefit from reading A Heart for Daddy. The illustrations, done by Debbie J. Hefke, are full, colorful, and the perfect visualizations for the book. Though the subject matter is extremely difficult, authors Murphy and Walling have done a wonderful job of talking about the subjects that others will not. If you or someone you know is experiencing loss due to suicide, A Heart for Daddy is highly recommended.

Jack Magnus

A Heart for Daddy: Helping Kids Recover from Parent's Self-Harm is a social issues picture book for children, written by Leticia Murphy and Sharon Walling, and illustrated by Debbie J. Hefke. Feelings of grief and loss can be especially devastating for those left behind when a loved one dies. This is especially true for children, who may feel as if their own lives have been forever taken away. In A Heart for Daddy, the little boy’s grief is compounded by the fact that his dad took his own life due to sadness. The story focuses upon the impact which branches from the familiar but now awfully vacant easy chair where his dad used to sit, to the schoolyard where playing seems so strange and unreal, and on to the places in town where he and his dad shared good times and pancakes. Seeing this new and drastically altered life from another child’s perspective can help children who’ve lost their parents begin to process how they are feeling and learn to focus on the good memories they have. Murphy and Walling’s book is written with the surviving spouse in mind as well, as is their letter to parents titled For Adults: Now What?

It’s hard not to get involved in the grief that emanates from A Heart for Daddy. Suicide has such a devastating impact upon everyone: family, friends and especially children who have lost a parent. Along with the grief is the struggle to understand how someone’s sadness could let them do such a thing and the fear that perhaps they are somehow to blame. The authors address these issues through the little boy in the story, his teacher and his mom. Debbie J. Hefke’s artwork is especially poignant in the contrasts between the artwork on the wall of their home and that empty chair where his dad used to sit. Likewise, the initial illustrations show the crying child who, as the story progresses, comes to realize that he will be able to smile again and that it’s okay to do so. A Heart for Daddy is eloquent and filled with the comfort that is so needed in this situation. It’s most highly recommended.

Sarah Stuart

A Heart for Daddy: Helping Kids Recover from Parent’s Self-Harm by Leticia Murphy and Sharon Walling opens with a boy at school because Mom thought it would help him, crying while the other children have fun during recess. The illustration of why he is upset is an empty chair. The chair recurs with Dad sitting in it, looking sad, and again later, empty. Dad has committed suicide, and in words and pictures, Leticia Murphy, Sharon Walling, and Debbie J Hefkie explain why and how perhaps Dad could have been helped in a way any child could understand. Leticia Murphy and Sharon Walling also tackle regrets and nightmares, unrealistic expectations, and the sadness and the anger that are part of the grieving process.

I was moved to tears by A Heart for Daddy and filled with admiration by the amazing help it offers to children, the grieving parent, and the whole family, forced to put aside their own feelings for a child’s sake. Or perhaps “put aside” is not the correct way to express it; Mom shares her tears with her son, even whilst she’s assuring him Dad loved them both. There is a reassuring note at the end about clingy behavior, lying, and anxiety, but the child’s story is completed by showing ways of moving forward: remembering the good times through drawings and photographs, and the introduction of counseling as a plus. A Heart for Daddy: Helping Kids Recover from Parent’s Self-Harm by Leticia Murphy and Sharon Walling would be the best gift to any family bereaved by suicide.