Book Review: A Terrible Thing Happened


By Margaret M. Holmes


It would be wonderful if we lived in a world where we didn’t need this book. But because terrible things do happen, this book is incredibly helpful. A Terrible Thing Happened is a story for children who have witnessed violence or trauma. It’s about Sherman Smith, a little raccoon who witnessed something very traumatic. It walks through his journey of processing this terrible thing – he tries to forget about it, but his stomach feels upset, and he feels sad, nervous, and unable to sleep. When he starts getting in trouble at school, he goes to see a counselor who helps him talk through the terrible thing. In the end, “Nothing can change the terrible thing that Sherman saw, but now he does not feel so mean.”


The book also contains 15 incredibly helpful tips for parents and caregivers on how to help a child process a traumatic event. For the unfortunate situation where a child needs to work through a trauma – witnessing a car accident, fire or tornado, or violence, assault or suicide – this book is a great resource. Reading about Sherman can help a child feel less alone, and the suggestions in the afterword can guide adults into helping a child move through the grief. 

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