Was It the Chocolate Pudding?
written by Sandra Levins
illustrated by Bryan Langdo

Could this kind of behavior be responsible for a divorce? Your child might think so.

Sandra Levins' Was It the Chocolate Pudding? A Story For Little Kids About Divorce
Illustrated by Bryan Langdo

Children's book review by Steve Barancik

Ages 2-6

Our divorce is not YOUR fault, honey!

Placing myself in the mindset of divorced parent, I had the eerie feeling while reading this book that it was aimed not at my child, but at me.

The book is written in the voice of the older of two young children of divorce. And this boy spends most of the book getting it wrong...or at least that's what I'm hoping.

He thinks that the cause of his parents' divorce is the pre-dawn pudding he brought to his little brother one morning, and the resultant mess.

After all, that pudding did seem to precipitate the fight that led to Mommy leaving!

So yes, as I read Was It the Chocolate Pudding? I wanted to leap into the book to comfort this poor child. "Sweetie, it wasn't you! It was your unfaithful mother! It was your abusive father! Whatever it was, it wasn't you!"

Well, any picture book that engages me to that extent is definitely doing something right.

Was It the Chocolate Pudding - summary and review

Of course, the book's real audience is children, and Levins' intent is clearly to provide a conversation starter. You may think that your child has no misconceived guilt feelings about your divorce, but you're probably wrong.

Therapists tell us that many children feel guilt about their parents' divorce.

After all, you've probably been very vague with them about the real reasons for your divorce. Your kids are just filling in the blanks.

And since children tend to feel like the center of the universe...

Of course the divorce must be their fault. Your job is to disabuse them of this notion, and Was It the Chocolate Pudding? is the perfect tool for the job.

Some divorce reading for YOU

After the story's over (and your kids are in bed), turn to the last three pages of the book, which come courtesy of clinical psychologist Jane Annunziata.

These pages really are aimed at parents, for the care and nurturing of their children. They feature pithy paragraphs with the following headings:

  • Explaining separation and divorce to children
  • Helping your child cope
  • Feelings of confusion and lack of comprehension
  • Feelings of anxiety
  • Feelings of loss and sadness
  • Loss of control
  • Feelings of anger
  • Regression and acting out
  • Loyalty conflicts and caretaking
  • On healing and recovery

Worth reading. Review continues.

family photos from 'Was It the Chocolate Pudding?'

Even if you're confident that your children don't feel your divorce is their fault, it makes sense to check with them on that...repeatedly. And Was It the Chocolate Pudding? A Story For Little Kids About Divorce is the perfect conversation starter.

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