Book Review- Jack by Helen Bishop and Simon Murray

"Jack" is a book written for children to help them deal with the issues that surround divorce and separation. One of the authors, Helen Bishop, explains more about the book in her guest blog below. ‍

Jack is quite sad and alone in his bedroom considering the situation between his mummy and daddy. He, like many children in a break up situation, feels that it might be his fault. Jack speaks to  his loyal friend “Black Cat “ who is able in his magical way to talk Jack through his concerns and worries, and provide him with some practical advice on how to make life a little easier, all of which make Jack feel more confident and reassured.

In my years of practice I was frustrated as to the lack of literature to help children deal with the issues that surround divorce and separation, and I felt that there was a need for a new, fresh and tangible object that is modern and appealing for children – something they can hold and read.

So I wrote a book about “Jack”, a child struggling with his parents separating, and his very special, wise and magical cat “Black Cat”.

Why Black Cat?

Behind every fiction there is usually a trace of reality and this is no exception.  Black Cat was a cat that adopted us when we moved into our current house, or so we thought!  He seemed to appear from nowhere at the most appropriate times and made us feel welcome.  As time went by it transpired that we had not adopted him, and that he had a perfectly good home a few doors down the street.  And his name wasn’t Black Cat, but far more regal as he was called Prince! His presence was always really special and over time we became lifelong friends with Black Cat’s human owner.

I hope that Jack provides young children with reassurance that having separating parents is not unusual, and by reading the book it will encourage them to engage with parents, guardians or teachers about their feelings.  Older children who read alone can use the book to help them reflect and realise that they are not in the situation alone, and that feelings of blame and confusion are quite normal.  

It was important to me when writing the book that it would create a story that would capture children’s imaginations, and provide comfort, warmth and reassurance that they are not the cause of separation.

It is impossible to write a piece of literature for children that ticks all of the boxes; each child’s circumstances are different. With this in mind I used the questions that are commonly expressed by children:" Could I have cleaned my room… not been so grumpy, or done all my homework?”   The book then goes on to deal with all of the practical questions, like having two houses to live in, leaving their sports kit at the wrong house, and being distracted, all making a child feel different.

Black cat talks Jack through his issues, and results in Jack being more contented and accepting of the situation. Whilst the situation might be tough at the moment, Black Cat provides the reassurance that it will get better.

My hope in writing this book was simply to help families at what is always a difficult time. I never imagined it would have achieved the respect it has, and I am so very happy that it has helped so many children and families.

It isn’t a solution, it is a tool for the separation repair kit that can help children and adults navigate through the fog and confusion of parental separation.

Helen Bishop

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