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Author: Michelle Shillings

Illustrator: Brenda Lovejoy

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Publisher: Ithaca Press,

Material: paperback

Summary: Roman, a young boy, splits his time between Mommy's house and Daddy's house. He loves his parents and being with them makes him happy. But it also makes him mad. Today, when he comes home from Daddy's he is very mad and does mean things to his mom. When Mom hugs him, they start to talk about his mixed up feelings. This picture book helps children deal with the emotions of a divorce and visitation.

Type of Reading: family reading, read aloud book, learning to read

Recommended Age: read together: 3 to 8; read yourself: 4 to 7

Interest Level: 4 to 8

Reading Level: 1.3

Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.

Adult Reader Reaction: This is a very useful book for helping young children express their emotions. Although it will offer the greatest comfort to children of separated or divorced parents, Roman's tantrums will resonate with all kids who don't understand how you can feel different emotions at the same time, or who don't know how to express them properly. You can also use this book as an easy readers for emergent readers. There are lots of sight words, with plenty of vocabulary repetition. It sets itself apart from many easy readers because it has a real story and does not have the usual stilted sentence structure.

Pros: Children who struggle with expressing their emotions, or who are trying to deal with parental separation, will connect with Roman and find comfort in this story.

Cons: It is not clear why the title is I Can't Want To It may be that because of his mixed up feelings, Roman doesn't think he should do normal things. If so, that message is too subtle and does not fit with the intended audience of this otherwise excellent story.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. This is a valuable story for children. For families dealing with separation or divorce, this would be a good book to have in both homes.


Educational Themes: Although this is intended to help children in families of divorce, there is valuable information for all children. Every child faces major changes and struggles with feelings and how to express them. Roman's refusal to put on his pajamas is as likely to be about having a bad day as it is about missing his dad.

Notes: Flesch Kincaid reading level .3

Literary Categories: Fiction - picture book, family, emotions

Date(s) Reviewed: March 2009

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