Thursday, January 12, 2012

Promise Not To Tell (1985)

Promise Not To Tell
Carolyn Polese, il. Jennifer Barrett
1985, Human Sciences Press

Today she was going to ride a real horse again.  And today, if she got to the stables early enough to help saddle up, Walt said he’d give her an extra, secret lesson on Charlotte.  Walt said that way Meagan would be sure to pass the Trail Trials on Friday.

I disapprove of using fiction as a thinly veiled therapeutic tool.  However, this one is well written so although it was clearly intended only as a way to educate children about sexual abuse – it’s very brief, the entire plot is the abuse and it’s obviously not a general read  - it is hard to dismiss it too summarily.

Under the pines and spruce, the campground was cool, but Meagan could tell, by the spicy smell in the air, that it would be hot as soon as she was out in the open.

One reason I’m including it here is that it’s the only horse book I’ve ever found which deals with sexual abuse at the barn.  That’s always struck me as odd, considering that the horse hobby is famously popular with childrenHorse books tend to present “the barn” as a haven.  That’s very nice and often very true, but the prejudice that barn=good must be a bit hard on anyone who experiences something different there.  

One line devastatingly sums up the cunning of a child molester, and the innocence of the victim:

The nicest thing about Walt, Meagan thought, was that he was always glad to see her.

Author’s website (her name is now Carolyn Lehman)
Illustrator’s website (she's now Jennifer O’Connell)
The Christopher Awards

About the author, etc.
The book won an award from The Christophers, a Catholic-founded group which recognizes positive effort. 

An organization founded in 1945 by a Maryknoll priest, The Christophers mission statement reads in part:

The mission of The Christophers is to encourage people of all ages, and from all walks of life, to use their God-given talents to make a positive difference in the world. The mission is best expressed in The Christophers’ motto: “It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.”

1 comment:

pullein-thompson-archive said...

Interesting post and I cant think of another book which deals with child abuse either. The nearest I can think of is Against the Odds which is by Sue Millard. However that deals with rape (which happens during the course of the book). Both acts are intertwined, though it must be pointed out that you dont have to be raped to be sexually abused.

It is not a rare book in the UK, however as you are in the USA, you may have to import it from the UK. Because of this, it is usually quite cheap though in your case shipping will be a factor.