Follow Here To Purchase Mommy, Daddy, I Had a Bad Dream!

Author: Martha Heineman Pieper Ph.D

Illustrator: Jo Gershman

ISBN: 978-0-9838664-0-4

Publisher: Smart Love Press

The majority of children's picture books follow a common pattern of presenting more than one theme, one of which is overt while the other is an underlying or a teaching message. With Martha Heineman Pieper's Mommy, Daddy, I Had a Bad Dream! the primary story focuses on Joey, a bouncy, happy Kangaroo that is having a series of nightmares, which, as she demonstrates, can be attributed to various common happenings in a child's life such as sibling rivalry, being sick, having to go to bed, and having a dispute with a good friend. Incidentally, as Heineman points out in an interview I conducted with her, there are very few children's books dealing with the topic of bad dreams and those that do exist don't really deal with it in a serious manner.

In the first of these night terror episodes, Joey is not permitted by a Judge Cass O. Wary to have for three days his favorite dessert, apples with honey. Joey frantically scampers off to his parent's bedroom hunting for an answer as to why he had experienced such a nightmare. His parents immediately try to comfort Joey by encouraging him to think about his dream and they then proceed to explain that “Dreams are stories we tell ourselves for a reason. We just have to understand them.”

Joey is then asked if there was something that happened to him that made him upset. Pondering about this for a moment, Joey remembers when his mommy wouldn't play with him because she had to feed his baby sister and he wished that his baby sister would go away. Joey learns, after he reveals his thoughts to his parents, that it is not unusual for children to feel angry when a little sister or brother takes mommy's and daddy's attention. And you can be angry, yet still love them all the same. Perhaps, Joey felt guilty about feeling this anger which may have been the cause for this bad dream and the punishment he received from the judge.

The second nightmare involves being locked out of his house and here once again his parents go through the same steps in investigating what may have provoked the nightmare. Joey now begins to understand the reasoning process as to why he is experiencing these dreams. By the third nightmare he succeeds in working out on his own the reason for his bad dream. And By the last dream, Joey is even able to deal with the situation alone without having to run to his mommy and daddy, and is able to fall happily back to sleep.

Martha Heineman Pieper passes with flying colors her teaching of nightmare-coping skills to children with her- kid friendly language. This is quite a feat, as often, when it comes to the message picture books try to convey, authors are either aiming too high or low. And moreover, the message is sometimes murky, particularly when we have adult preoccupations creeping into what is supposed to be a child's world of thought.

Reinforcing the reassuring qualities of the story, Jo Gershman's illustrations are effectively handled, helping children better understand the story with their soft colors and expressive faces of Joey and his parents. In addition, they are lively and memorable, inspiring the story with a great deal of warmth and vigor.

Martha Heineman Pieper received her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and her undergraduate degree from Radcliffe College. She is an experienced psychotherapist who also provides consultation services to mental health clinics, psychotherapists, schools, and parent coaches. She has devoted her professional life to helping children and families find happiness. Her work is the foundation for the non-profit agency, Smart Love Family Services, which provides a broad spectrum of counseling and educational services to children and families. With her co-author, William J. Pieper, M.D., she wrote the bestselling parenting book Smart Love: The Comprehensive Guide to Understanding, Regulating, and Enjoying Your Child and the popular adult self-help book, Addicted to Unhappiness.

Jo Gershman's illustrations have appeared in over thirty-five children's and adults' books. Her watercolors and illuminated manuscripts are in private collections around the world.

Follow Here To Read Norm's Interview With Dr. Martha Heineman Pieper

Follow Here To Purchase Mommy, Daddy, I Had a Bad Dream!