This book should not have to exist. But here is why you need to read it.
Thank you to Netgalley for providing an early copy for review.
Note: My full review is after the Short Review. Trigger warnings for those who decide to read the full review.
“One Thursday Afternoon” is a beautifully illustrated book about Ava, an elementary school-aged girl who is confused and afraid after a school lock-down drill, and her grandad, who listens and empathizes with her as she processes her emotions after the scary event. He takes her for a picnic and to paint in the park, and while few words are spoken, it is very meaningful.
The illustrations are stunning, the fall afternoon vivid and crisp on the page, the simplicity of the story heartbreaking and beautiful all at once.
I truly believe everyone with a child in their life needs to read this book, and be ready and open to a conversation on this topic. This book is the perfect start.
I was 10 years old when my local high school, just miles down the road, was attacked by a student with a gun. As children just 5 years older than me were injured and killed, my elementary school went on lock-down. We didn’t really know what was happening, but suddenly one thing was clear: Our parents could not protect us from this.
Suddenly, fear was very real, and our teachers were our only hope for calm and reassurance. I will forever remember that day- my need to find my little cousin who was 2 grades younger than me, to make sure she was okay, to hug her as she cried-and my wonderful teacher who kept us busy, quiet, and safe, until the lock-down was lifted, the damage was done, and our parents were finally allowed to collect us, devastated as we learned of what occurred that morning.
Twenty years later I am grown, old enough to have my own children, and this book brings a hard lump to my throat. Because this Ava, this thoughtful little elementary-school-aged girl, was me.
There are 3 things I need everyone to take away from this book.
1. Children’s fears and confusion are valid, and are to be taken as seriously as your own. They are to be expressed and moved through, with loving and kind guidance.
2. Adults are to listen, to empathize, and to provide a safe space for their children to speak and feel heard. Simply saying “that will never happen to you” or “it’ll be okay”, disregards their very real fears.
3. This book is just the start to a conversation we should all have with our children, or at the very least be ready and willing to have.
I graduated from that same high school, eating my lunch in the same cafeteria where children were murdered, volunteering with my team to polish the memorial made on the school grounds in honor of the fallen and injured children from that day. Each year the entire town would pause for a long moment of silence, the local fire and police departments lining up outside our buildings to remember the tragedy of that day, their lights flashing- but not a sound. The absolute and wrong silence of hundreds of high school students, teachers, parents, and law enforcement gathered together.
The active-shooter drills were as constant as earthquake and fire drills. The imperfect patches on the textured walls of my school were bandaged scars from bullet holes, and I would stare at them, not really able to comprehend what had happened right where I was standing.
And I was one of the lucky ones- 3 miles and 4 years away from being at that school that day.
But I still felt it, our entire beautiful little town did, and so do children now who have to go through the same lock-downs and drills I went through, a generation later.
This book is a beautiful start to a conversation that is vital to the wellbeing of our children. Please read it, empathize with it, and think about what you will do to support the children in your lives and your community.
2 thoughts on “One Thursday Afternoon by Barbara DiLorenzo”
I am so sorry you have lived this fear, and know it intimately. I experienced this fear as an adult in my 40s, and it was enough to really shake me (to write the book). But to be a child aware of what is happening–to do the math and realize a few years and a few miles separated you from being present that awful day–is too much for any young person. And you were not alone–all the people in the community must have been grasping for answers. I send you a big hug.
I hope that in your life today you find solace in creating (this blog is terrific!), enjoying nature (even if only looking out the window at the birds), and talking with someone you trust. It’s not an answer, but those things have helped me a bit.
Here’s hoping that with enough adults listening to children, the world might course-correct a little.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Hello, and thank you for your kind words and for finding my blog! Wow! I really appreciate your book and I agree, being in nature, and being with family, friends, and people you can talk to, helps so much. This book was very cathartic to me. Thank you for reading this review and for writing your book, it definitely reopened conversations for me in a very good and necessary way.
Just 1 week until your book releases, and I’ll be celebrating! Thank you!
LikeLiked by 1 person