The Sober Cat was written by Patricia Petrusik and includes a math component designed by Cathy McKeever, a retired teacher. Patricia retired from the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation in the Pittsburgh area. She holds a guidance certificate K-12 and an addiction certificate , C.A.A.P. She also developed an educational game, “The Slippery Slope of Substance Abuse.”
The Sober Cat is not your typical children’s book. It is intended to be used as “a primer to help start the dialogue of drug prevention.” So, this is not a book you just put on the shelf with your first or second grader’s other books.
According to Patricia, “If you don’t talk to your kids about drugs and alcohol, someone else will and they will not be concerned with what’s age appropriate or accurate. The time to start a dialogue about drugs and alcohol with your children is before they are exposed to them.”
She uses her cat, Jazmine as the narrator of four tales relating to drug or alcohol abuse. Jazmine helps serve as a reminder that substance abuse affects every member of the family including pets who depend on their owners for food, shelter and affection. At the end of each story is a brief math lesson which teaches important math concepts for this age level and helps the children process the information they have learned in practical terms.
If you are thinking…
1. My kid is pretty smart, I can just give him or her the book and they will figure it out without my preaching at them.
2. I don’t abuse drugs or alcohol and we don’t associate with people who do, so my child doesn’t need to learn about this until he/she is older.
3. Don’t they teach this stuff at school?
4. I don’t want to make my child afraid of every person they see taking a drink of alcohol or afraid everyone will try to get them to take drugs.
Drug and alcohol addiction is a serious topic. It’s too serious to just hope your kids get that its bad and too serious to hand off to someone else.
The Sober Cat has vocabulary sections designed to explain substance abuse terminology in words your first and second grade child can understand. Jazmine talks about heroin addiction, alcoholism, keeping over the counter medicines and prescription drugs away from pets and small children and the importance of properly storing prescription drugs in the home, so visitors and family members who are not caregivers will not have access.
Most schools provide some type of substance abuse education. This is your opportunity to supplement what your child is learning in a safe and loving environment.
These can be scary topics for your child, but these are events that happen every day. We see them in the news and our children hear about them as well.
Patricia has included some adorable photos of Jazmine with tie ins to a website, theslipperyslopeofsubstanceabuse.com. She is currently working on a supplemental guide for parents to use with the book and she encourages kids to draw the families in the book and create additional stories about them.
My final thoughts on this subject… According to NHL Hall of Fame great Wayne Gretzky, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” In this case, if you don’t talk to your kids about substance abuse, you will miss important opportunities to educate them about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
The Sober Cat is available at amazon.com and on her website, theslipperyslopeofsubstanceabuse.com. Patricia will be giving talks throughout the community, check your local libraries for any upcoming dates. She is also available to speak to groups and can be contacted via her website.