Sabrina 's Reviews > Willie's Dad

Willie's Dad by Stanley  Williams
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Mar 13, 08

bookshelves: read-in-2008, reviewed-for-breeni-books, no-longer-in-my-possession
Recommended to Sabrina by: Breeni Books
Read in March, 2008

With his new release, Willie's Dad, Stanley Williams attempts to capture the anxiety and trepidation felt by children of incarcerated parents. Willie is a kindergartner who hasn't seen his father in a long time. Throughout his entire life, his father has been at "The Place," but his mother tells him not to talk about it with others because they won't understand. He has only seen his father a few times and has trouble remembering him.

Willie's mother's friend, Duane, volunteers to take them on the long drive to see his father because they do not own a car. Once at the prison, Willie experiences going through a security check and being patted down. He does not understand what is happening and is concerned for his mother, but Duane reassures him. When they are inside, Willie mistakes another man for his father because it has been so long since he saw him last.

Willie's father recognizes the mistakes that landed him in prison and urges his son not to become like him. He gives his blessing to Duane to marry Willie's mother, Tina, and become Willie's new father. This is a place where Williams misses an excellent opportunity. On the ride home, while Duane explains to Willie what a wonderful thing his father has done, he tells him he should always respect his father and imitate his positive traits. But he never goes into detail or lists the other "good things" about Willie's father. The reader is left without a sense of who the father is or what might have transpired to place him in that situation.

Williams does a good job of viewing the world through a child's eyes in the narration. However, what completes a children's book is the further explanation of things children might not understand. It would have been helpful to both Willie and the reader if he had used Duane's dialogue to explain to Willie what exactly was going on as they entered the prison and were being patted down. As it stands, it appears Willie has no understanding of what is happening to them or why the guards are checking them.

I feel like this book would be an excellent guide to children facing the incarceration of loved ones, but there will be new and unfamiliar experiences for them to face, and it could be complemented with further explanation. There are also some minor editing and grammatical issues. Williams has presented the story through a child's eyes. Adding an adult's wisdom would ensure comprehension of the somber message.
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