Clarissa Pettaway has waited five long years for her father to return home from prison. Now he’s home, and she is not sure how she likes it. My long-awaited children’s book, along with resources for teachers, counselors and families, is here.
The book won the Larry Underwood Award for Children’s Literature and was just released by Shining Hall Press. Illustrations are by Dan Jay.
Ted Morissey: What was your motivation for writing Clarissa’s Disappointment?
Megan Sullivan: My motivation for writing Clarissa’s Disappointment was at least threefold. First, I believe such a book would have helped me when my father was incarcerated. I recall that when I was a middle-schooler, I read a book where the main protagonist, a boy, had a father in prison. I nearly gobbled that book up, because it felt to me that someone understood my predicament. I wrote Clarissa’s Disappointment in part because I wanted to offer that solace to others. I also wrote it because there are not many children’s books that focus on incarceration and none that I know that features what is called the “reentry period,” or that period of time when a formerly incarcerated person returns home to his community and family. It bothered me that the 2.7 million minor children who currently have parents in prison or jail as well as the untold number whose parents have been incarcerated in the United States might not be seeing their lives in print. Finally, I wrote the book because I could not get the voice of Clarissa out of my head.