cover image When Someone in the Family Drinks Too Much

When Someone in the Family Drinks Too Much

Richard Langsen. Dial Books, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-1686-5

A highly accessible title on a troublesome topic, this picture book by a husband-and-wife team could be of inestimable value to children struggling with alcoholism in their families. Featuring a cast of bears, the artwork allows children a safe distance while the text delivers the lowdown (""There are 28 million alcoholics in America. One out of every ten people has this illness""). Langsen, a family therapist and teacher, writes from a position of strength and authority. His explanations of the feelings that alcoholism can cause (guilt, embarrassment, anger and so on), and the ways the illness can affect a family (creating enablers, rebels, clowns, etc.) could be a real lifeline for a child; at the same time, he offers advice on where to turn for help. In a format similar to that of Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown's Dinosaurs books, Rubel (the Rotten Ralph books) contributes colorful, occasionally humorous and always direct cartoons (one illustration, for instance, shows Mama Bear with her head in the toilet). This is a powerful vehicle for education, comfort and even healing, and should be offered without hesitation to any child whom one suspects is dealing with this problem at home. Ages 6-10. (June)