Emma and Josh heard that something happened in their town. A Black man was shot by the police.

"Why did the police shoot that man?"

"Can police go to jail?"

Something Happened in Our Town follows two families — one White, one Black — as they discuss a police shooting of a Black man in their community. The story aims to answer children's questions about such traumatic events, and to help children identify and counter racial injustice in their own lives.

Includes an extensive Note to Parents and Caregivers with guidelines for discussing race and racism with children, child-friendly definitions, and sample dialogues.

About the Authors

Marianne Celano, PhD, ABPP, Marietta Collins, PhD, and Ann Hazzard, PhD, ABPP, worked together for more than two decades as Emory University School of Medicine faculty members serving children and families in Atlanta. All three psychologists have been involved in community advocacy efforts focused on children's behavioral health and social justice.

Dr. Celano and Dr. Hazzard have developed and utilized therapeutic stories in individual and group therapy with children and teens. All three authors valued story-time with their children, who taught them important lessons about what children need from adults.

This is their first picture book for children.

About the Illustrator

Jennifer Zivoin has always loved art and storytelling, so becoming an illustrator was a natural career path. She has been trained in media ranging from figure drawing to virtual reality, and earned her bachelor of arts degree with highest distinction from the honors division of Indiana University.

During her professional career, Jennifer worked as a graphic designer and then as a creative director before finding her artistic niche illustrating children's books.

When she is not creating art in her studio, her favorite hobbies include drinking cocoa while reading a good book, swimming on hot summer days, and spending time outside with her family.

Jennifer lives in Indiana with her husband and two daughters.

Reviews & Awards
  • National Parenting Product Award Winner

This is a difficult subject, and I think this book handles it well. The language is age-appropriate and gentle. The illustrations are beautiful, and the message is positive: kids can start a "better pattern" by including kids who are different than themselves.
—Five Star Review, San Francisco Book Review

Something Happened in Our Town respectfully and honestly deals with a paramount social problem, and is worthy of the highest recommendation for public, school library, and family picture book collections.
Children's Bookwatch

This story will open up the doors to some important and heavy issues that children are exposed to in today's society. Issues of race, discrimination, stereotypes, racial profiling, entitlement...
—Lulu's Book Journey

Right now, parents are looking for more children's books that accurately depict the world their kids live in today. They also want a book that helps them discuss the tough issues that they would otherwise feel uncomfortable talking about. This is that book...The lesson of compassion and tolerance will touch anyone's heart...This beautifully depicted picture book is a must for parents, teachers and librarians a like.
—cup of tea with that book, please

In this beautifully written and illustrated children's book, children were learn about racial injustice as it happens today.

Beautifully written and illustrated...I give [it] five out of five stars!

Provides an unflinching look at how families can and should talk about racism…Explores the roots of racism in America, the importance of actively fighting for social justice, and how kids can respond to the prejudice and exclusion that creeps into their classrooms… Whatever this discussion looks like in your household, it's just a first step.

Additional Tabs
  • Book Lists and Online Resources (PDF, 49KB)
    Lists of books for young children about resisting racial bias, advocating for civil rights, accepting oneself, and valuing diversity; books supporting racial pride for children of diverse ethnicities, resources for multicultural families, anti-bullying books, resources about community violence, and resources about racial injustice for older children; resources for parents; and resources for teachers.
  • Read Aloud Tips for Educators (PDF, 76KB)
    Specific ideas for educators when reading Something Happened in Our Town to a group of children, including a sample introduction and possible discussion prompts at various points in the book.