I was a teacher for thirty years, so I have first-hand knowledge of books-as-therapy, as consolation, as companionship at times of crisis. I know how great it is to have the perfect book to put in the hands of a kid who is having a hard time. Books won’t make everything better, but they sure make you feel less alone. So I write for kids about things like alcoholism and loss, and my bottom line is: hang in there and you’ll soon be grown up and in charge of your own life.
When I was ten my father went to jail on a DUI and I was profoundly ashamed. But our family was not really introduced into the subculture of the imprisoned and their families until my youngest son killed another boy in a traffic accident and spent fourteen months in jail for manslaughter. We visited him every day and it was as if we’d entered a whole other world, one nothing like we would have imagined. I wrote Do Not Pass Go for all the kids I saw visiting there, for all the kids who have had a family member fall afoul of the law. And there are a lot of them.
I collected clippings about American prisons. 2003: One in 37 American adults has had jail time. 2006: One in every 136 American adults is in jail. 2005: 1.5 million American children have a parent in prison. 1.5 million. Talk about an ubiquitous experience.
This book was really a collaboration. Deet’s thoughts are based on my reactions and those of my family. But Dad’s stories about jail life came from my son. He was intensely interested in people and his compassionate observations formed the basis for this book. I hope somewhere, some troubled kid is comforted by Deet’s story.