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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Joseph's Journey: When Dad Left and Never Came Back is a nonfiction book for children written by Christina Nicole Smith and illustrated by Dolores Melgar. Joseph is a young boy who has learned about how we all make choices in our lives. Offered a choice of beverages, he may choose water, milk or juice. He may want to sit at home and read or go out shopping with his mom. His mom offered her insights and knowledge about making choices when Joseph asked about his dad. Joseph’s dad used to come and visit with him on a weekly or biweekly basis. Then he stopped coming at all. Joseph was confused and hurt by it. He felt angry and sad all at once. His mom had no way to contact his dad, and Joseph felt as though he had no recourse but to be upset. Then his mom explained about choices, and how we have to make choices just about all the time. At this point in time, Joseph’s dad’s choices mean he’s not coming to visit right now. His dad’s choices don’t mean that Joseph has to feel sad or bad. Joseph has his own choices to make and can choose to be happy instead.
Joseph's Journey: When Dad Left and Never Came Back helps kids understand a parent’s absence in a way that absolves them from feeling as though they did something to make that parent go away. Smith’s book addresses the subject in a sensitive and empathetic manner. I especially liked the fact that Joseph tells the story rather than his mom, and think that hearing the message from another child, a peer, will make it resonate more strongly with young readers. I loved getting to know Joseph through the artwork of Dolores Melgar. His smile is radiant, and the illustrations illustrate a deep and lasting bond between Joseph and his mom. And while this book is geared towards single-parent kids, the message about choice and personal power is a valuable one for all kids to hear. Joseph's Journey: When Dad Left and Never Came Back is most highly recommended.