In a country where children play with toy guns and some appear to be doing more than playing the proper role of weapons has become a subject that parents cannot afford to ignore. Whether or not there are guns of any type in the home, children will be exposed to weapons in play groups, on television, at sporting events. The question then becomes how to instruct your child about guns. Do you elaborate on a news report about a shooting? Do you take them to a store that sells guns? Do you read a fictional story about people feeling the emotional loss after a loved one was shot? About a teen gang shooting? The answers to these questions depend on the age and interests of your child as well as your own convictions, but our present culture strongly suggests that all parents must do something to protect their children.

You may find some help at your local bookstore or library since authors of children's books have begun to address this scary topic. One recent title worth a look is Guns: What You Should Know, designed for young elementary school-age children. In straightforward and child-appropriate terms, Rachel Ellenberg Schulson describes different kinds of guns, the mechanism of shooting a pistol, and the speed and distance a bullet can fly. She then turns to the element of danger in shooting, noting that "Each year in the United States, about 200 children are killed from accidents with guns." And she goes on to describe the pain and injury of being shot.

Schulson also touches on the disagreement about gun control but concludes that "all grown-ups agree on one thing: Children should never play with guns!" The last page may be the most important with three simple rules telling children what to do if they ever find a gun. After all, as the final sentence says, "People make mistakes." Mary Jones's somewhat stylized illustrations have simple lines and bold colors, while the text is highlighted by different colored type on each page. Both the illustrations and text make for a book that is timely and informative.

Reviewed by Paula Morgan.

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