Review also includes:
Where is Poppy’s Panda?, David Pitcher, ill. Rachel Fuller, 978-1905664726
Two new productions from the BAAF continue their impressive publishing tradition. While both books are aimed at young children being fostered or adopted, Dennis Duckling is the more specific of the two. Dennis and his small sister find that their parents can’t look after them any longer, and while they are sad, they accept that Annie (the social worker duck) will find them a home – which she does, with a family of river ducks. The family is kind, but Dennis is still sad and finds the adjustment painful. Being allowed to see his parents helps, and Annie makes sure that Dennis is asked about what he wants to happen next. We don’t discover what this is, but we do know that Dennis is being consulted at every level. Fear and sadness are admitted and dealt with.
Where is Poppy’s Panda? is a far more subtle story that could be useful for any child who is facing changes in his or her life and needs the continuity of a favourite toy. Poppy’s Panda is lost, and while she searches for him, she thinks about all the events Panda has shared with her. Neither fostering nor adoption is mentioned specifically, but we see her with what is obviously a set of foster parents, with a respite carer, and with her adoptive parents. And we see her at her first day at nursery, and when she moves house. All along it is Panda who makes the changes acceptable. There is great relief when he is found, although the eagle-eyed will have noticed Panda lurking behind a curtain all along. Poppy’s gradual ransacking of her room, leaving a trail of mayhem behind, is all too redolent of a youngster’s approach to finding a lost treasure, and the illustrations reflect this beautifully.
Both books contain booklets for parents and carers that will help make the most of discussions with children.