Thursday, May 14, 2015

Why is Dad So Mad?
Book Review

Why is Dad so Mad is a children's book written by Seth Kastle, a veteran and former First Sergeant who served in the Army Reserve for 16 years. He was deployed to Iraq for over a year and now lives with the reality of PTSD in his daily life. Kastle wrote this book to help explain his PTSD to his own children as well as other military families who are learning to live with PTSD .

It is illustrated by Karissa Gonzalez-Othon.

I want to start off by saying how much I love this book! It is illustrated with simple easy to look at drawings. The characters in the book are depicted as a lion family which is appealing to children and adults alike. It explains the way PTSD changes an individual gently and carefully maintaining the focus on the parent/child relationship and focusing on the love a parent feels for their child no matter the challenges they are facing personally. I think it is an excellent addition to the library of any military family and public libraries also.

The characters in Why is Dad So Mad are portrayed as a lion family. I think this was an excellent choice for several reasons. Firstly, it cuts across race unequivocally allowing this book to be an ideal resource for any military family whose dad has PTSD. (Mom's don't feel left out, Kastle is working on his companion volume Why is Mom So Mad.) Army families come in all sizes and colors and using lions as their characters allows his readers to read the book rather than worry about why they don't look the same.

Additionally the use of the lion characters adds to the visual interest and gives the person reading it more to discuss with the child they are reading to. Questions such as “Have you ever seen Daddy get so angry he grew a mane, open up conversation that will help the child work through the complex emotions they are learning to deal with.

Finally the lion characters are appealing to the reader because it makes it easy to see dad cast as the angry lion and the loving protector at the same time. The illustrations about getting angry really quickly and the final one of the whole family in a group hug are some of my favorites in the book.

Kastle uses simple childlike language in relating the struggles someone who has PTSD faces on a daily basis, explaining that Dad had to do “really hard, dangerous work” and that because of that sometimes he has a hard time now. He has trouble relaxing, being patient, and controlling his anger and these are just a few of the symptoms that Kastle touches on so artfully before showing his reader how he deals with those symptoms.

Kastle closes his excellent book with positive family images in which Dad is expressing his love to his family and smiling. He promises that no matter what he will always love them “more than anything.” This is, in my opinion, an excellent way to close a difficult topic with a child. To use Kastle's own words, a child needs to know “more than anything” where he or she stands with the parent who is dealing with PTSD and that they still matter to them.

My own children who are 14 and 18 read this book and adored it. My older daughter, who works at our local library in the children's room shared it with the children's librarian who also purchased a copy for her shelves because she enjoyed it so much.

It is my goal to end the stigma that comes with PTSD. I blog about PTSD once a week, searching the mountains of information out there and bringing you the best of what I find. I review a book on PTSD every other week and I publish a weekly encouraging reflection and tweet encouraging quotes for PTSD survivors daily, follow me to be encouraged. Together we can make a difference.

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